The wild world of the NFL is five weeks through and different aspects and trends are starting to take shape.
The Atlanta Falcons are for real after their win against the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott continues to improve every week as he ran roughshod over Vontaze Burfict and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Tennessee Titans continue to show that they are no longer the doormat of the NFL after a dominant win over the Miami Dolphins, and the Minnesota Vikings’ defense is downright scary.
On the opposite side of the coin, the Cleveland Browns are awful and can’t seem to keep a quarterback healthy to save their lives. The Bengals’ offensive line has turned toward mediocre after being one of the best in 2015, and the Dolphins should start preparing for the draft.
Some players are impressing, others are depressing and some performances were not indicative of what is to come; therefore, let’s get to this week’s “Impressed, Depressed and Dismissed.”
IMPRESSED: Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line
Another week and another dominant performance from the Cowboys’ rookie running back. Elliott had 135 rushing yards with 104 of those coming after contact.
He showcased the vision, patience and athleticism that made him such a valuable commodity in the 2016 NFL draft. His disappointing Week 1 performance seems like a distant past after these past few performances.
On top of that, the offensive line put together another excellent performance against a sneaky good Bengals defensive line with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Zack Martin and Travis Frederick put together a near-perfect performance in pass protection and in the run game. Tyron Smith’s return was well received as he put the left side on lock for 60 minutes.
The Cowboys, who sat at 4-1, are here to stay and a viable NFC contender.
DEPRESSED: Browns quarterbacks
The Browns have reached the point where they are so bad that it is hard to make fun of them. Their defense is a mess, their offense is putrid, and they may have the worst personnel in the NFL. To their credit, they are in full rebuild mode and ready to trade anyone outside of wide receiver Terrelle Pryor per the NFL Network’s Courtney Fallon.
If that wasn’t enough, the Browns can’t even field a quarterback for a full game. They’ve already gone through Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, and they added Cody Kessler to the list. On top of that, Charlie Whitehurst was even hurt for a stretch against the New England Patriots.
Even though the Browns are in full tank mode, they better sure up their pass protection or they may have to pull Tim Tebow away from the diamond to get through the season.
DISMISSED: Falcons pass rush
While Von Miller and the Broncos defense is known for their pass rush prowess, it was the Falcons’ pass rush that dominated the game. Coming into their game against the Broncos, the Falcons had four total sacks on the season. So what do they do against the defending Super Bowl champions? They bring down Paxton Lynch 6 times en route to a 23-16 victory.
The real MVP of this pass rush was Vic Beasley who record 3.5 of the six sacks. The former Clemson star has limitless potential, but he failed to show more than glimpses of his talent since getting drafted in 2015.
While the performance was marvelous, it is not something that will continue. While Beasley can certainly turn the corner, it is more likely that he took advantage of a Ty Sambrailo as he replaced Dwight Stevenson at right tackle.
Expect the Falcons to go back to their average to below-average pass rush from here forward.