High-flying adventures in NFL Media Research Notes

Print

Every Wednesday, Dan Hanzus combs through the expert findings of the NFL Media Research Department to share nuggets (also known as "nugs") that interest, fascinate, frighten or change him on a fundamental level. This is the Week 4 edition of High-Flying Adventures In The Research Notes.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (HAS ANYONE EVER USED THIS MUSIC REF BEFORE?)



As Jamaal Charles fights for touches in Denver and Adrian Peterson drifts into obscurity on the Saints, the NFL circle of life goes on. Enter Kareem Hunt and Chris Thompson, two young stars who have become the center of their respective offenses over the course of three weeks.

Both Hunt and Thompson ripped off plays of more than 70 yards on Sunday. They are crazy good ... but will they hold up? Hunt is on pace for more than 300 touches (no bueno) and Thompson battled the injury bug in his first four seasons. These are explosive playmakers who need to be carefully managed -- one can imagine the temptation is great to work your human highlight machine into every play call.

WARNING: DON'T COUNT ON THE PATRIOTS BEING THE WORST AT ANYTHING FOR LONG



Here's the thing about the Patriots right now: If you want to beat them, you better do it soon. As a Jets fan who has lived through the entire post-2000 nightmare that is the Belichick-Brady era, I can promise you that New England will figure out their issues on defense. Are they going to suddenly morph into the 2000 Ravens? Nah. But Belichick and his cohorts -- this includes the marvelously bearded defensive coordinator Matt Patricia -- will forego sleep and showers to ensure this defense is competent by January.

And that's all the D needs to be -- league average. Tom Brady will handle the rest. If you're an AFC team, your only hope is that New England gets tagged with a couple more losses by Halloween, and that temporary vulnerability will cost them home-field advantage in the playoffs.

ARE THE VIKINGS -- THE VIKINGS?!? -- THE NEW GREATEST SHOW ON TURF?



You know you have a great 1-2 punch at wide receiver when Case Keenum is suddenly out there looking like a hybrid of Steve Young, Joe Montana and Peak I-Can-Actually-Stop-Time Zack Morris. Before the season, I wagered a high-octane sandwich with my Around The NFL Podcast colleagues that Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant will be the leading reception yardage tandem in football. I'm not feeling so hot after watching how explosive Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have been.

JUSTIN JAMES HAS ZERO SACKS ... AND THAT'S OK



"30 for 30" announcer: What if I told you that one man would raise $37 million in hurricane relief then never tackle a quarterback again?

Yeah, this is probably not going to happen -- even in a world that no longer makes sense. J.J. Watt still looks like Watt on the field. In fact, he was a force against Patriots last Sunday, finishing with five solo tackles, including three for a loss. He blew up New England's first two plays from scrimmage. He good.

The point? Sacks don't always tell the story, and they have a habit of coming in bunches. If Watt stays on the field, he'll end up in double-digits like always.

MAYBE THIS EXPLAINS WHY THE DOLPHINS SEEMED ASLEEP AGAINST THE JETS



Nobody likes to hear excuses, but it's hard to deny the schedule and outside factors -- specifically, the path of Hurricane Irma -- did the Dolphins no favors early on. Did you know Miami won't play it's first true home game until Week 5? That's October! No wonder Adam Gase is in such a rotten mood. Seriously, cast this guy in a Snickers commercial already.

Relatedly, have fun in London, guys. Fun fact: The last time the Dolphins played in England, they got ripped by the Jets then fired their coach. We can't imagine it goes that badly this time around.

THE RAVENS AND STEELERS ARE ALWAYS GUARANTEED ENTERTAINMENT



The idea of a "rivalry" gets thrown around a bit loosely in professional sports. But that is the perfect way to describe the Ravens and Steelers, two well-run organizations who know how to stay relevant. Pop quiz: When is the last time a team other than the Ravens or Steelers won the AFC North? The correct answer: 1987.

That's not true at all (the Bengals actually won the division in 2015) but it feels that way, doesn't it? There's a very good chance these teams will finish 1-2 again in the division standings, and Sunday will go a long way in deciding who comes out on top. CBS, this is going to be the best game of the week. Send Jimmy Nantz and your wonderboy Romo over there this weekend and be done with it!

GUYS, DON'T LET JEFF FISHER SEE THIS "NUG"



It's amazing watching the strides Goff has made this season. He was a total disaster as a rookie, something we suspect he'd admit himself. And now he's playing like an All-Pro and making general Les Snead and the rest of the Rams braintrust look brilliant. Suddenly, seats in the Los Angeles front office are a lot less hot.

Hopefully Goff keeps this up, because the NFL needs more good quarterbacks in the league right now, not less. And perhaps all the people who quickly wrote Goff off as a bust will remember that young passers need the right coaching and surrounding talent to properly develop. It was just four seasons ago that Derek Carr began his career with 10 consecutive losses and a passer rating of 76.8 in those starts. Goff's rookie season? 0-7 and 63.6.

History, you see, can be instructive.

Follow the NFL Media Research Group on Twitter at @NFLResearch.
Print

Fan Discussion