Week 5 is knocking on the door. We’ve seen how the teams in the North, South and then West are dong so far. Now we’re heading cross country to see how the teams in the East are doing. First up the AFC East, for the first time since 2000 without Tom Brady. And then the NFC Least, sorry East, who are 3-12-1 between them. We aren’t saving the best until last…
Check out our previous report cards. North: http://ninetynineyards.com/2020/10/08/quarter-season-report-card-part-1-the-north/
Buffalo Bills 4-0 A-
The Bills have slowly been building towards this year. Since Sean McDermott got the roll as head coach they’ve slowly rebuilt, adding quality on both sides of the ball. Their big move this off season was adding Stefon Diggs via Trade with the Vikings. The former Maryland star costed Buffalo a hand full of picks, including a first rounder. So far, so good. Diggs is leading the Bills receivers with 403 yards (2nd in the league) and the whole league in yards/touch with an impressive 15.5.
The only question mark against the Bills so far is their defence. They were second last year only allowing 16.2 points/game. Everyone is allowing more points this year as defences take time to click, but the Bills are currently 17th, allowing 25 points/game. This is a little concerning especially as their opponents rank 10th, 12th, 23rd and 31st in points for. They’ll need to tighten up as the season progresses and if/when they get to the playoffs. -Bryan Dickie
New England Patriots 2-2 B+
There were some, including this writer, who thought the post-Brady demise of the Patriots would be swift and entertaining. It doesn’t look that way. No one, including aforementioned writer-fool, should be surprised that despite a 2-2 record that the Patriots look like a good team.
As per, their defence is their strong point. Ranking 9th best in points and yards against, 92 and 1396 respectively. Impressive as they’ve faced 3 of the top 10 teams in points for; Seahawks (2nd, 142), Chiefs (9th, 117) and the Raiders (10th, 111). Bill Belichick will continue to lean on the defence, taking the pressure off former All-Pro addition behind centre Cam Newton.
New England’s 2-2 record has them 2nd in the AFC East, not bad when considering the off season changes and opponents they’ve faced. -Bryan Dickie
Miami Dolphins 1-3 C
With a raft of new rookies, and free agent additions, the lack of preseason games was always going to affect how the Dolphins started. I have heard lots of optimism about Miami’s future, and they seem to have the right guy leading them in Brian Flores. But, this bounty of pick in 2020 and 2021 has to pay off.
Kyle van Noy has been a welcome additions, Fitzpatrick has been Fitzpatrick and Myles Gaskin seems to have secured the lead back role with off season pick-ups Breida and Howard playing bit part roles. However, rookies Austin Jackson and Noah Igbinoghene have understandably struggled in the early weeks, and we have yet to see Tua Tagovailoa enter the fray.
Overall, probably 1-3 is where I expected the Dolphins to be at this stage. -Stuart Taylor
New York Jets 0-4 E
I’ll keep this short as there’s not much on the positive side; the Jets stink. They’re 31st in points for (16.3/game) and 30th in points against (32.8/game). Their closest game was last week, allowing a late slim lead to slip to the previously win less Broncos. It’s a case of when, not if, Adam Gase will be fired after an OK 7-9 season last year it now appears his cards are marked.
The “positives” for the Jets are that QB Sam Darnold is showing some signs of improvement – which is impressive considering the lack of talent playing alongside him. New York traded want-away star safety Jamal Adams to the Seahawks before the Season. Decreasing their overall talent level but grabbing two first round picks for their troubles. It’s going to be a long season for Jets fans, most of it spent hoping they can make some big improvements for next year. -Bryan Dickie
Philadelphia Eagles 1-2-1 C-
Even though they sit top (TOP) of the NFC East at 1-2-1, the week 4 win against the Niners saved both the franchise from a really rough spot and Carson Wentz for some serious pressure from 2nd round pick Jalen Hurts. It’s not been an easy ride for Philly though. They, much like the San Fran team the snuck past on Sunday, have been ravaged with injuries. WRs, linemen on both sides, DBs, pretty much every position on the field has been on the IR at some point this season but again, the NFL is next man up and Philly haven’t produced enough to put them in a good spot. Both sides of the ball have produced okay football but by no means are they anywhere near the standards that Philly expect.
Wentz has looked out of sorts so far. With just 830 yards through the air, 4 TDs and 7 INTs, he’s a mile away from that MVP candidate we saw a few seasons ago but I think we can expect him to improve as his wideouts return from the IR. The defensive front has been decent, ringing up 17 sacks so far but the DBs look way below par and will get carved up by teams with strong WR group, like Dallas, who they’ll see twice. They’ve already allowed nearly 1000 yards through the air and have just 2 INTs on 147 attempts, which isn’t going to be enough if they do manage to sneak in to the post season.
There’s plenty more of this season left for Philly to turn it around and to get their playmakers back healthy but for right now, a tie against the Bengals isn’t getting it done. C- as well. -Jamie Edwards
Dallas Cowboys 1-3 D
The main reason “Big D” get a grade D is because of their D-fence. Or lack of. Despite looking alright holding the Rams to only 20 points in week 1, since then their defence has done little more than get on the field and let oppositions roll over them. They’ve allowed the most points of any team (146, 31.5/game) and are 30th out of the 32 in yards against, allowing 1722.
Statistically the offence is almost the mirror opposite, they rank 3rd in points for (126) and first in yards (2038). I dread to think how one sided their practices are…
It’s no huge shock that their defence took a step backwards: short off season, no pre-season games, player changes, new defensive coordinator and scheme. But to be this bad is frightening and casting a big dark cloud over the rest of their season. -Bryan Dickie
Washington Football Team 1-3 C-
What a year its been for Washington. Name changes, front office scandals, a new head coach who, after joining the organization, is very sadly diagnosed with Cancer. its been rough, as has their offence. Just 1207 yards, 10 total TDs and 3 INTs so far this season. Those stats have led to former 1st round pick Dwayne Haskins being dropped by Ron Rivera in favor of Kyle Allen for week 5.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel for Washington, however. Terry Mclaurin has continued his great form of last season and his stock is quickly rising. He has a 387 yards on 26 receptions so far and is on pace for a phenomenal season. As well as that, the defence is actually performing at a decent level. They have produced 14 sacks, 5 INTs and have been decent against the run. Chase Young looked about as legit of a as pass rusher as you’ll see anywhere in the league and has slotted in well to an already good D-line. Although they’re 1-3, sitting at T-2nd in the NFC East, they’ve not been boat raced yet and maybe a change at QB will help them kick on. A below par C- with room for improvement. -Jamie Edwards
New York Giants 0-4 D-
Its been a rough year for the Giants so far. Four pretty bad losses, leaving them at 0-4 and bottom of the NFC East and with a major injury to stud RB Saquon Barkley, things don’t seem like they’re going to get much better. Daniel Jones has looked nothing like the ‘Danny Dimes’ we saw last season in the first 4 weeks. He’s thrown for just 889 yards on 91/149 attempts, 2 TDs and 5 INTs. The offence has only converted 37% of 3rd downs and has a woeful 306 rushing yards and have allowed a massive 14 sacks.
They just don’t look like they’re at the races this season and look like they could be on pace for a 1 or 2 win season. They are lucky in that their division seems to be a bit of a joke thus far but things don’t seem to be going anywhere for the Giants, will we see the arrival of Trevor Lawrence if Jones continues like this? Who knows, but through 4 weeks, they need something and a D- is maybe generous. – Jamie Edwards
As far as the season starts go this has been impressive. Record breaking scoring and close games have been almost guaranteed for most games and that shows no sign of stopping. A bit of defence wouldn’t go a miss, as we go further into the season and teams start to gel more maybe we’ll see more? Or maybe we’ll just see offences continue to run a mock all over the place? Either way, it’s great to have football back.
Thanks for reading! We’ll be back in a few weeks for a “half time” season update.