NFL Week 5 Takeaways: The Los Angeles Rams Could Be in Real TroubleOctober 9, 2022
NFL Week 5 Takeaways: The Los Angeles Rams Could Be in Real Trouble
No head coach has done more with less than the New York Giants' Brian Daboll, who has immediately turned last year’s 4-13 squad into one of the top teams in the NFL through Week 5.
Big Blue will leave London with a 4-1 record after they knocked off the Green Bay Packers Sunday. Running back Saquon Barkley had another spectacular performance, racking up 106 scrimmage yards with a touchdown. Leading up to the game, quarterback Daniel Jones battled an ankle injury, but he went 21-of-27 passing for 217 yards and rushed for 37 yards in the 27-22 victory over the Packers.
The Giants defense took the field without starting defensive lineman Leonard Williams and edge-rusher Azeez Ojulari, but that didn’t faze the unit on a game-sealing fourth-down stop on New York’s 6-yard line.
Beyond the realization that the Giants look better than many expected, we saw a dominant performance from the other New York football team that thumped a division rival. The NFL-NFLPA's new concussion protocol had an impact on that game.
Lastly, we have an early leader for best team in the NFC North via head-to-head competition.
Let’s go through the biggest takeaways from Sunday’s early action. We'll provide updates throughout the day.
Rams Won't Make It Back to Playoffs Without Reinforcements for the Offensive Line
Unless a couple of players return from injury in the coming weeks, the Los Angeles Rams must find some help to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. In five games, he's taken 21 sacks. On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys took him down five times.
In the most fitting fashion that highlights the Rams' biggest issue, Cowboys defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence returned a fumble for a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, and Micah Parsons strip-sacked Stafford on Los Angeles' final possession.
The Rams’ started their fifth offensive line combination against the Cowboys, which explains why Stafford had been under constant duress and unable to stand tall in the pocket. On top of that, Los Angeles’ ground attack averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.
Los Angeles trotted out its third-string center Jeremiah Kolone against an aggressive defensive front that went into Week 5 tied for the second-most sacks. Left guard David Edwards missed the previous game with a concussion and left Sunday's contest with a head injury.
Nevertheless, the Rams' entire offensive line struggled mightily, including right tackle Rob Havenstein, who gave up the final sack to Parsons.
With the trade deadline about three weeks away, the Rams should make some calls for backup offensive linemen who can play meaningful starting snaps in case their group continues to battle injuries. If that unit doesn't improve, this team will miss the 2022 postseason.
Eagles Add Gritty Battle-Tested Win to 5-0 Start
The Philadelphia Eagles haven't played in a close game since its 38-35 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 1. They've held double-digit fourth-quarter leads in each of their first four outings.
On Sunday, the Eagles faced a tough road test in a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, who haven't won a home game since Week 7 of the 2021 campaign. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury's squad seemed due for a victory at State Farm Stadium, but kicker Matt Ammendola missed the game-tying field goal from 43 yards.
In a 20-17 win, Jalen Hurts scored twice on the ground, and the Eagles defense didn't allow Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray to pull out a late victory. The unit sacked him once and intercepted one of his passes in the first quarter.
The Cardinals tested the Eagles in this game. Murray led his team into field-goal range, but Philadelphia's defense kept the Cardinals' kicking unit out of chip-shot range.
Through five weeks, we've watched the Eagles win in both high- and low-scoring battles and with a commanding lead. They also faced a little bit of adversity, falling behind the Jacksonville Jaguars by 14 points early last week.
Philadelphia can win any of type game with a top-10 scoring offense and defense, which is the trait of a viable playoff-caliber squad.
Seahawks Offense Loses Significant Firepower with Rashaad Penny Injury
Through five weeks, quarterback Geno Smith has generated the most buzz within the Seattle Seahawks offense, but the team lost a key part of its unit in a 39-32 loss to the New Orleans Saints Sunday.
In the second half, Seattle had to cart running back Rashaad Penny off the field. He left the game with 54 rushing yards on eight carries.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Penny suffered a fractured tibia, and he'll undergo further tests to assess any additional damage or the need for surgery.
Last week, Penny started to hit his stride on the ground, rushing for 151 yards and two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions. On Sunday, he broke off a 32-yard run and averaged 6.8 yards per carry before his early departure.
While DeeJay Dallas could handle more touches in Penny's absence, rookie running back Kenneth Walker III's second-round draft status likely propels him into a big role for the foreseeable future.
Walker showed some flashes against the Saints, registering eight carries for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Brian Daboll Is Getting the Most out of the Giants
Last week, we highlighted running back Saquon Barkley as the front-runner for 2022 Comeback Player of the Year because he’s the engine of the New York Giants offense. While that still holds merit, head coach Brian Daboll deserves a lot of credit for making the most of a mediocre (at best) roster with a few key starters out of action in Week 5.
Other than Barkley, the Giants don’t have any reliable offensive playmakers. For the season, slot receiver Richie James leads the team in receiving yards (171) and is second in catches (17) behind Barkley. He caught two passes for 16 yards Sunday. In London, wideout Darius Slayton led the team in both categories, hauling in six passes for 79 yards. Leading up to the game, he had just one catch for 11 yards.
On Sunday, Big Blue scored more than 21 points for the first time this season.
This week, the Giants placed starting cornerback Aaron Robinson on injured reserve (knee). During the game, they lost their other starting cornerback in Adoree’ Jackson (knee). Two of their top defenders, defensive lineman Leonard Williams (knee) and edge-rusher Azeez Ojulari (calf), didn’t suit up for Sunday’s game.
Yet the Giants made their first fourth-down stop of the season and prevented six out of 10 Packers third-down conversions.
At some point, we must admit this isn’t just a gritty Giants team but a club that knows how to win with its roster pieces. Daboll has put together a quality coaching staff with offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive play-caller Don “Wink” Martindale to help lead this team to an impressive 4-1 start.
Packers Need Reliable Pass-Catcher to Cure Second-Half Scoring Woes
First and foremost, give credit to the New York Giants defense for a couple of batted passes on a late-game goal-line stand to secure a victory in London. As for the Green Bay Packers, they should add a veteran wideout or lean on running back Aaron Jones a little more in the short passing game.
The Packers went up 20-10 at halftime, but their offense didn’t score any points in the second half. The Giants took a safety as they bled the clock.
As we pointed out last week, the Packers’ wide receiver corps started to come together in a matchup against the New England Patriots with Allen Lazard hauling in six passes for 116 yards and rookie fourth-rounder Romeo Doubs catching five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. The young receivers took a step back Sunday.
Sure, Lazard scored on a four-yard touchdown reception, but he caught just four out of eight targets for 35 yards. Meanwhile, Doubs converted five targets into three receptions for 29 yards.
Once Big Blue made a second-half push, Green Bay didn’t have an answer, punting twice, turning the ball over on downs and finally taking a sack as time expired on its four drives after halftime.
Perhaps the Packers need to take an aggressive approach in pursuit of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who could provide a boost once he recovers from a torn ACL. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport expects Green Bay to show interest in him. The 29-year-old wideout agreed with ESPN analyst Marcus Spears that the Packers stand out as a potential fit.
As a more immediate impact alternative, Green Bay should consider a deep threat in Will Fuller V, who’s averaged at least 15.1 yards per catch in three of his six seasons. He has a 62.5 percent career catch rate. Regardless, the Packers need another veteran receiver besides Randall Cobb, who caught seven passes for 99 yards Sunday. Keep in mind that Sammy Watkins (hamstring) is on injured reserve.
Vikings Are Clearly the Best NFC North Team Through Week 5
No NFL club can claim a division title after Week 5, but the Minnesota Vikings have an early edge over their NFC North rivals with a win over all three teams.
On Sunday, the Vikings beat the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium to go 3-0 in the division. With home wins over the other two NFC North squads, Minnesota may have the most balance on both sides of the ball among the four teams.
Even though the Vikings went into Week 5 ranked 27th in total defense, the unit forced a fumble to seal a 29-22 victory over the Bears. For the season, Minnesota has at least one takeaway in all five of its games.
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings have scored at least 28 points in three consecutive outings. On Sunday, their stars helped lead them to victory. Justin Jefferson caught 12 passes for 154 yards; he also threw a pass for 23 yards. Dalvin Cook rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 27 yards.
Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers offense has struggled to put points on the scoreboard in the second half of games, the Detroit Lions had allowed the most points and yards heading into Sunday’s contests, and the Bears haven’t scored more than 23 points in a game this season.
With an early advantage over every team in the NFC North, an offense that’s recently picked up some steam and an opportunistic defense that can force turnovers, the Vikings should feel confident in their squad. They have one of the top three records in the NFC.
Jets Have Taken Advantage of Early Breaks as Wins Build Optimism
In consecutive weeks, the New York Jets have beaten a couple of teams that tossed rookie quarterbacks into action with the game in progress.
Last week, the Jets faced Kenny Pickett, who made his NFL debut after halftime, and on Sunday, they defeated a Miami Dolphins squad that inserted rookie seventh-rounder Skylar Thompson into the lineup following quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s early exit (elbow/concussion protocol).
According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Bridgewater passed the protocol tests, but the new guidelines kept him out of action:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> say Teddy Bridgewater was ruled out due to concussion protocol. He passed the tests, but because of the new rule — adding ataxia to the “no-go” list — and what the ATC spotter saw, he’s out.<br><br>The first player removed from play under new NFL-NFLPA protocols.
Regardless of the circumstances Sunday, the Jets earned a dominant 40-17 win led by their young core.
Rookie second-rounder Breece Hall had a signature outing, racking up 197 yards (97 rushing and 100 receiving) with a touchdown from scrimmage. Fellow running back Michael Carter scored twice on the ground. First-round cornerback Sauce Gardner recorded five tackles (three solo) and his first interception. Quarterback Zach Wilson scored a rushing touchdown and didn’t turn the ball over.
With a young squad, you want to see steps in the right direction against whoever lines up on the other side, and the Jets have shown signs of progress. More importantly, their youngsters have been contributors in the team’s three victories this season.
Saints Must Continue to Showcase Taysom Hill in Their Offense
The New Orleans Saints needed an offensive spark, and they found it in Taysom Hill, who’s arguably the league’s most versatile Swiss Army-knife playmaker with the ability to throw, run and catch the ball.
With Michael Thomas (foot/toe) and Jarvis Landry (ankle) out and rookie first-round wide receiver Chris Olave leaving the game early with a concussion, the Saints rode Hill to a 39-32 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Hill threw and ran for a touchdown on the Saints’ last two scoring drives. Along with his 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Trautman, he finished with 112 yards and three scores on the ground.
Though quarterback Andy Dalton (16-of-24 for 187 yards, a touchdown and an interception) started under center and stabilized the offense in place of Jameis Winston (back), Hill’s versatility elevated the unit.
Because of the Saints’ injuries at wide receiver, they may need more of Hill in a pass-catching role in the coming weeks. Over the summer, he focused on the tight end position, so perhaps the coaching staff designs plays to get him the ball as a receiver in space.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints expect Thomas to suit up for Week 6, though offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael should keep Hill involved to keep defenders guessing as to his role on any given down.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.