The Shield: To Push or Not To Push the Panic Button

Two weeks into the NFL season it’s way too early to make any serious assertions about any team’s playoff hopes.  That doesn’t stop pretty much everyone who covers, writes, follows or cares about the NFL from doing so though.  Since you can’t prevent people from doing it, you might as well join them and do it too.  This week’s focus will be on three teams who may or may not be pressing the panic button and a fourth who surprisingly might have every team they play pressing it.

Group One: #NotDeadYet

32. Chicago Bears (0-2) 

31. Detroit Lions (0-2) 

30. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) 

29. New Orleans Saints (0-2) 

28. Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) 

27. Houston Texans (0-2) 

26. Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

25. Baltimore Ravens (0-2)

Bears QB Jimmy Clausen is likely to start in Jay Cutler's stead this week (Photo Courtesy of David Banks/Associated Press)
Bears QB Jimmy Clausen is likely to start in Jay Cutler’s stead this week (Photo Courtesy of David Banks/Associated Press)

For a panic button article, starting from the bottom feels appropriate.  Congratulations Chicago you have left the realm of mediocrity and descended all the way to the bottom.

Why they should press the button: 

You are 0-2 and play a Seahawks team this week that is hungry and getting Kam Chancellor back.  Jay Cutler is probably going to miss a few weeks with a hamstring injury.  The fact that Jay Cutler missing games is a reason you should panic is another reason that you should panic, not to mention the fact that there is a legitimate article posted this week titled, “Should the Chicago Bears sign Tim Tebow?“.  It also doesn’t help that neither Alshon Jeffery, nor Eddie Royal were practice participants yesterday.  One last reason is that Chicago the highest likelihood of landing the first overall pick in the 2016 draft currently, according to ESPN FPI.

Why not to press the button:

Chicago did show some signs of improvement against Green Bay in the opener, even if that did pretty much evaporate last week.  John Fox still hasn’t ruled out Cutler.  Jared Allen says everything is fine.  Maybe you actually will get the number one pick?

Verdict: Treat that button like a “Whac-a-Mole” Mole

Group Two: Plenty of Time to Improve

24. New York Giants (0-2)

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

22. St. Louis Rams (1-1)

21. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

19. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

18. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

17. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

Giants QB Eli Manning (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media for nj.com)
Giants QB Eli Manning (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media for nj.com)

Considering every other team in this group is sitting squarely at .500, the Giants would seems to be the team with the most concerns.  Plenty of these teams have looked erratic through two weeks, but the Giants have arguably looked consistently better than any of the other seven teams here, even as the only team without a victory.

Why  they should press the button:

Well for starters, they are 0-2 and history says that only one of the nine current winless teams will make the playoffs, and the Giants don’t have a situation nearly as favorable as either Indianapolis or Seattle.  They are already in the hole with one division loss, and are playing another division game on a short week of practice tonight.  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will also miss tonight’s game.

Why not to press the button:

Eli Manning is a very smart quarterback, regardless of what this face might suggest, who has made major mental blunders in back-to-back weeks.  His track record says that won’t continue.  The G-men have also had double-digit leads in both of their games this season.  Sure they blew both of those leads, but you have to do something right to get them in the first place right?

Verdict: The Giants’ problems are, to quote Eli, “Nothing a win can’t fix”, so as long as they get that this week leave the button alone.

Group Three: We’ll Panic When We Miss the Playoffs!

16. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

15. Miami Dolphins (1-1)

14. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

13. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

12. Cleveland Browns (1-1)

11. Washington Football Team (1-1)

10. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)

9. Dallas Cowboys (2-0)

Photo Courtesy of Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press
Photo Courtesy of Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

Miami sneaks into the top half of this week’s power rankings, but the way they have done it has not been particularly inspiring.  Losing to the Jaguars has been a bad loss for about a decade now, and while Miami wasn’t the only team to suffer a loss to team that isn’t very highly regarded last week, they were the only one to stay this high in the rankings.

Why  they should press the button: 

Lamar Miller, Ndamukong Suh and Brandon Albert are all suffering from various degrees of injury.  The Dolphins have started flat in two consecutive weeks, which isn’t enough to be a trend, but it is something to monitor.  It’s also not super promising that the ‘Fins have yet to score more than twenty points in a season.  This was supposed to a much improved offense, but as of now that has not been the case, and that’s unlikely to change this week against a tough Bills defense.  Coming into the season, Miami seemed like a pretty safe bet to finish second in the division, and now fourth seems just as likely.

Why the shouldn’t press the button:

Ryan Tannehill has actually played pretty well so far, especially last week when he passed for 359 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.  This team does still have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, and they have managed to pick up a win in their first two games, despite playing below their expectation level.  At the end of the day, they still have the second best quarterback in the division by a mile, which is a big advantage over the course of a full season.

Verdict: Keep your hand close, but to yourself for now

Group One: Look On my Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair!

8. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)

7. Green Bay Packers (2-0)

6. Denver Broncos (2-0)

5. Carolina Panthers (2-0)

4. Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)

3. New England Patriots (2-0)

2. New York Jets (2-0)

1. Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 21: Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets celebrates after recovering a fumble by Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 21, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 21: Darrelle Revis #24 of the New York Jets celebrates after recovering a fumble by Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts in the second quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 21, 2015 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In the previously linked Andrew Sharp article from Grantland, Sharp took the approach that the Jets fanbase should panic because their team is receiving so much praise.  I’m going the opposite direction and saying the rest of the league, especially the AFC East, needs consider hitting the button when they start preparing to play the Jets

Why they should press the button:

The Jets defense is nasty and under Todd Bowles’ direction you can bet dollars to doughnuts that they will hit every quarterback they play.  With Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie locking down opposing receivers, Bowles can afford to send plenty of blitzers too.  Brandon Marshall’s addition to the offense gives the Jets a stronger group of skill players than they’ve had in a long time, and Geno Smith returned to practice this week (although not entirely sure if that’s a positive for N.Y.J. or not).

Why they should not press the button:

This team is known for getting in its own way, and the Patriots still look like the class of the division.  Plus, Tom Brady is on what “4 Down” has dubbed the, “2015 Revenge Tour”, which is almost as angsty as Steve Smith’s “Farewell Tour”.  We are still only a week removed from the Bills being considered the potential surprise team in the AFC East, and it is still highly likely that the Dolphins will start playing better and look more like the team we thought they would be coming into the year.  It’s still very early and pretty much everything will change between now and December.  However…

Verdict:

This concludes week two of “The Shield”, also known as “The Panic Button Edition”.  Hopefully this has been a good week.  If you have any suggestions for theme’s for next week, teams you’d like to be covered or want to leave a comment about the rankings all feedback is welcome.

 

 

 

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