By Max Ferguson, Staff Writer
The one hundred and third NFL season has been one of the most interesting to watch. Right now, fans are seeing old favorites of the 2010s playing alongside a new generation of young players. With four weeks left to go, it only feels right to summarize what has happened so far.
The Philadelphia Eagles are on a Super Bowl-level run. Some of their success can be attributed to quarterback Jalen Hurts. He has improved leaps and bounds since his first season as an Eagle in 2020. So far in the season, he has almost doubled his passing yards of the previous season, and he has also scored three times as many touchdowns (three in 2020 to nine already this season).
However, he is not a one man show. The Eagles’s offensive line and receiving corps have equally contributed to their success. Of all quarterbacks, nobody has as much time in the pocket and as large a pocket as Hurts, which gives him the ability to get the football in the hands of the all-star wide receiver duo of Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown, who have tallied a combined 1,661 receiving yards so far this season.
Two other teams who have been seeing unprecedented success this year compared to the past are the New York Jets and the Detroit Lions. Even though neither of these teams are Super Bowl contenders, they are taking steps in the right direction. With the drafting of rookie-of-the-year contender Sauce Gardner, the Jets have made their defense much more intimidating. However, on the other side of the ball, work needs to be done. QB Mike White has proven himself to be the offensive leader his team needs, but he needs people to throw the ball to. The only reliable receiver the Jets have is Garrett Wilson.
Likewise, the Lions are in a similar position. This season, the team has already won more or the same amount of games than in their past three seasons. QB Jared Goff and WR Amon-Ra St. Brown seemed to have formed a connection. However, if Detroit and New York want to keep moving in a positive direction, they will need to keep making power moves in the offseason.
On the other side of the country, another player who has been on fire is QB Geno Smith. Taking over from former QB Russell Wilson, he has proven himself to the Seattle Seahawks’ fan base and has been putting on an absolutely electric performance.
A number of teams are having quarterback troubles. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Commanders, Chicago Bears, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all are headed by underperforming quarterbacks. Even though Tom Brady brought the Lombardi Trophy to Tampa just two years ago, he seems to have gone cold. The Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Commanders, and Bears are all going through growing pains with their respective new quarterbacks.
But of the three teams mentioned, I believe Kenny Pickett of the Steelers has the brightest potential. Head coach Mike Tomlin has what it takes to develop Pickett into the franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was—if not better, because he has the potential to be a much better rusher than Big Ben.
The Commanders organization is in absolute shambles with the one person to blame being their owner, Dan Snyder, who is running his team into the ground. So much so, there have been congressional hearings over the mismanagement of the team. To add fire to the flames, the Commanders egregiously disrespected Sean Taylor with a “memorial” to the deceased player, which was nothing more than a wireframe mannequin made of mismatched equipment, none of which Taylor wore during his time in Washington.
The Bears, in tandem with teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, have fallen into obscurity, like every year. Although they have a solid record, the New York Giants have a one-trick pony offense. Scouts have figured out that so long as RB Saquon Barkley’s damage can be controlled, the Giants’s offense can be stopped from marching downfield.
Under this category, the first thing that comes to mind is QB Russell Wilson. Since moving to Denver, he has fallen from grace. His “Broncos Country, Let’s Ride” slogan has failed to get fans and fellow players rallied behind him on top of a slew of questionable actions, like doing high knee drills on the team plane. Wilson’s lack of leadership combined with uncharismatic coaching from Nathaniel Hackett, who forced players to “hug it out” in front of the team after fights in training camp, has led to an ugly season for the Broncos.
Likewise, the AFC South as a division has been abysmal. The best team in the division, the Tennessee Titans, are barely past breaking even at a .583 win-loss ratio. Likewise, the Colts still have not found a worthy replacement for Andrew Luck since his retirement several years ago.
The NFL season has had its good, its bad, and its ugly. The league will offer loads of excitement in the final weeks as the playoff bracket is set and teams gear up for the postseason.