We are back with another 5 for 5! Five topics, with a top five for each one. Today’s edition features the biggest surprises of the weekend, coaching hot seats, 2023 NFL Draft stock watch, and more!
Headline #1: Biggest Surprises of the Week
•No. 1: Tua Tagovailoa’s Miami Dolphins Stun Lamar Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens with a 21-point Comeback Victory.
When Mike McDaniel arrived in South Beach, he brought the promise of a high-powered offense with him. Well, two weeks into the season, it’s safe to say that the first-time head coach has lived up to the expectations.
For much of the offseason, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa heard over and over again that he didn’t have what it takes to be a starting signal-caller in the NFL. On Sunday, the Alabama Crimson Tide alum threw for 469 yards and six touchdowns!
The lefty eviscerated Baltimore’s defense, using his cheat code wide receivers to punish the Raven’s secondary. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are arguably the best wide receiver duo in the league already. They showed that this weekend with their combined stat line of 22 receptions, 361 receiving yards, and four touchdowns.
These types of numbers haven’t been seen in Miami in my lifetime, which is a great sign of things to come for Dolphins fans. It was an odd set of circumstances that led to the McDaniel-Tagovailoa pairing, but after battling back from a 21-point second-half deficit, it looks as though they’ll be linked together going forward.
•No. 2: Monster Big Ten Performances Show the Conference Should be Taken Seriously.
The Big Ten has long been considered a top-two conference in the nation. This year, they’re laying claim as the best at this point of the season.
No. 3 ranked Ohio State boat raced the Toledo Rockets Saturday, with a 77-21 drubbing of their instate competition. To Toledo’s credit, quarterback Dequan Finn made a couple of eye-opening plays, but ultimately they did not have enough to stack up against the Buckeyes.
CJ Stroud completed 22 of his 27 pass attempts for 367 yards and five touchdowns, a strong boost to his Heisman resume. As long as the defense can hold up, Ohio State is going to be the favorite in every game they play this regular season. It’s time for the Buckeyes to make a run.
Looking to stand in their way are the reigning Big Ten Champions, Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. Running back Blake Corum dominated Connecticut this past weekend, finding the end zone an astonishing five times en route to his team’s 59-0 shutout.
Michigan’s chances lie squarely on the back of whoever is behind center. JJ McCarthy is the most talented passer on the roster, and it looks as though the coaching staff wants him to step up and end any doubt on who the starter should be. They’ll meet Ohio State at the end of the season, with a strong chance that both are undefeated.
Hoping to play spoiler is the Penn State Nittany Lions. James Franklin’s crew traveled down south and beat the brakes off of the Auburn Tigers. Sean Clifford played very well and thanks to a couple of true freshmen (more on them later) PSU looked like one of the best squads in the nation.
It might be a year early when it comes to their CFB Playoff chances, but Penn State gets Ohio State and Michigan State at home this season. They’ll travel to the Big House to take on Michigan on Oct. 15. I’d circle that date because it’s going to tell us a lot about both teams.
Indiana improved to 3-0, surpassing their win total from the year prior. Minnesota has one of the most lethal run games in the country, spearheaded by Mohamed Ibrahim, and they have yet to drop a game in 2022 as well.
Taulia Tagovailoa even has Maryland undefeated through three games. The Rutgers finish up a quartet of unexpected teams to start at 3-0, as Greg Schiano secured two close victories against Boston College and Temple.
Given how shaky things are in the SEC outside of Georgia, it’s reasonable to believe that the Big Ten could send two teams to the CFB Playoffs this season.
•No. 3: Amon’Ra St. Brown Etches His Name in the NFL History Books.
It’s time to start talking about Amon’Ra St. Brown the way that he deserves to be talked about, with the best of the best at wide receiver. The former USC Trojan recorded his eighth straight game with eight or more catches. A mark that only two other wide receivers have reached (Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown).
The Detroit offense was clicking on all cylinders against the Washington Commanders. They have one of the best stables of weapons in the NFC, and that’s without Jameson Williams, who many believe was the best pass catcher available in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Jared Goff isn’t the guy to take Detroit to the Promise Land, something that the front office knew when making the trade. But he has proven to be an elite bridge quarterback option.
Whoever the Lions get next, whether it be through the draft or even Lamar Jackson, that player will have an embarrassment of riches to work with on offense.
•No. 4: Georgia Sent 15 Players to the 2022 NFL Draft… & Got Better?
I was pounding the drum for Georgia this offseason, telling anyone who would listen that they weren’t going to take much of a step back in 2022. To my surprise, it looks as though they’ve actually taken a step forward!
In the 2022 NFL Draft, 15 Bulldogs’ heard their name called, setting a new record for the event and the Georgia program. Even with guys like Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, and Travon Walker graduating to the NFL, a few key members of the championship defense stuck around in Athens.
Jalen Carter has looked like a top-five player in the country since he first saw the field for the Bulldogs. Kelee Ringo is working his way into becoming the top cornerback in the upcoming draft class. However, perhaps the biggest reason for Georgia’s improvement comes from the quarterback position.
Stetson Bennett retained the starting gig after performing at a high level during the team’s title run. Entering 2022, Bennett was hungry to prove that he isn’t a liability, but rather an advantage.
He’s led the charge each of the first three weeks, looking like a new man with confidence that wasn’t always there in 2021. This is a horrifying thing to hear for any would-be title contenders.
It’s not often, if ever, that one could propose such a claim, but I genuinely believe they are a better team right now than last year. I can’t see anyone beating Kirby Smart’s group in 2022.
•No. 5: Defending AFC Champions, the Cincinnati Bengals, Fall to 0-2.
After an impressive offseason from the Bengals front office, fans were expecting another run through the AFC in 2022. Unfortunately for the Cincinnati faithful, things are off to a rocky start.
The defending AFC Champions dropped their week one matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that just lost their longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Bengals lost week two to the Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys, allowing Joe Burrow to be harassed all day long.
It is a different dynamic altogether when you go from being the hunter to the hunted. Joe Burrow is still as talented as they come, the offense is loaded, and the defense still boasts the same faces from last year’s unit.
The difference is, that Zac Taylor is going to get every team’s best shot week in and week out. As the incomparable Uncle Ben once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”.
The Bengals can’t rest on their laurels and live off of one stray Super Bowl appearance. To make the most of Burrow’s talents, they must keep the hunger that got them to the top in the first place.