Not-So-Hot Takes: Burning NFL Thoughts and Questions from Weeks 1-4

The young season has made for some interesting debates and given us plenty of food for thought. But there are far too many people spouting far too many opinions. People who have no idea what they’re talking about, just yelling their thoughts as if they’re gospel.

So, here are my thoughts and opinions on the hottest topics from the first quarter of the NFL season.

First-Time Starters

Rookie and first-time starting quarterbacks are once again front and center through the first four games of the season. With the early success of Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Trevor Siemian (or Paxton Lynch, I can’t tell them apart), it’s easy to see why fans across the league are in the process of losing their minds. One more good game from Wentz and he might replace “Battery Throwing” as the thing most synonymous with Philadelphia.

Are we in the midst of a golden era for first-time starters?

Nope. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the joy may not last. I’ve been down this road myself. Let me take you back to the 2012 offensive rookie of the year, Robert Griffin III.

Actually, no. I’m not going to do that to myself.

Instead, what I’m going say is that good defense and the paucity of tape on young quarterbacks leads to early success for first-time starters. It’s hard to evaluate any player on a small sample size, and I urge everyone to calm the hell down. Chill out. Take a long hard look in the mirror. Will this quarterback bring you championships or gag-inducing hashtags?


Billy B vs. Tommy B

Even though a higher power appears to have thwarted Bill Belichick’s Faustian bargain for the week, the question humming around football still seems to be: Are the Patriots a soul-crushing juggernaut of an organization because Bill Belichick is a genius or because Bill Belichick has Tom Brady? Let’s look at the data.

Brady is the most attractive, cookbook-making, moat-having quarterback to ever walk this earth. He’s an alien with an ungodly ability to play the quarterback position. And to top it all off, he’s got as many Super Bowl appearances as abs (I’m assuming). That’s pretty darn good.

Bill, on the other hand, can turn water into scotch (see Matt Cassel) and destroy your dreams with just three-quarters of a normal sweatshirt sleeve. So what if he drafts DBs only from Rutgers? He’s still been able to win without Brady, and his team has looked straight up nasty while doing so.

Advantage? Patriots fans. Who cares what the answer to this question is? You’ve been too good for too long. Give someone else a chance. This reign of terror must end.

The LA Rams

Who’da thunk it? The Rams are 3-1 heading into week 5, and not a soul saw this coming. After the unwatchable disaster that was their week 1 game vs. the Niners, I, and most others, had left the Rams’ season for dead. How are they doing this? They haven’t even taken the plastic wrap off their no. 1 overall pick, and they’re the leaders in the clubhouse in the supposedly fearsome NFC west.

With a defensive front full of AH! REAL MONSTERS, and an offense that is technically an NFL offense, should we start thinking of the Rams as legit? Is this team for real? Can they make a serious run their first year in Los Angeles?

No. No, they can’t.

Injuries. So Many Injuries

After just four weeks of the NFL season, I’m pretty sure I could have a degree in knee injuries. I know more about meniscal tears, ACLs, MCLs, ICLs, QVCs, and bruised kneecaps than most med school grads (probably). After reading through all of Twitter, the most reliable source for facts, I can tell you I’m not the only one who’s frustrated with the constant stoppage in play due to injuries.

But what can be done? These players are sacrificing their bodies for our entertainment. How can we make the game safer and keep it watchable?

The answer: Good luck with that.

The whole sport is predicated on giants running into other giants at full speed. No amount of player-safety regulations or high-tech padding is going to change the outcome of a 300-pound human falling on the leg of another 300-pound human. So stop it. They’re fully grown adults playing a game and making stupid amounts of money for doing so. Not to mention they have the best medical professionals available. Sure, it would be nice for these dudes to be able to walk when they’re 40, but that’s not your problem now, is it?

Excessive Celebration Penalties

If I’ve learned anything from sports movies, it’s that excessive celebrations are gaudy and unsportsmanlike. This year it seems every member the NFL Refs’ association watched BASEketball and thought, “THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!”

And while I agree BASEketball has some gaping plot holes, it made me wonder whether the celebrations are getting out of hand. Do we really need more twerking in our lives?

I hate to be a downer, but no. It’s super-annoying. You just scored a touchdown. You didn’t cure cancer. Give the ball to the ref, and go slap your teammates’ asses like a gentleman.

Other Important Thoughts

Remember when Chip Kelly coached the Eagles?

Kirk Cousins is not, and will never be, the captain of the Enterprise.

Did everyone just forget that Ben Roethlisberger was accused of, and suspended for, rape on two separate occasions? Cool.

The Seahawks offensive line is offensive.

The Lions are still an NFL team.

I’ll give you $10 if you can tell me where Lovie Smith is coaching right now.

We, as a group, need to get Peyton Manning a job that doesn’t involve being on TV. Please.

Odell Beckham Jr. is a live action Street Fighter character.

Patriots fans are, by far, the most bearded group of football fans.

The Raiders might be good.


Max Spitulnik is a writer based in LA. You should follow him on Twitter.