Moss, Lynch trades highlight another week of debate in the NFL.
Athlon's Steven Lassan, Nathan Rush and Braden Gall debate five burning questions for Week 5 in the NFL:
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1. Who will make a bigger impact on their new team, the Vikings' Randy Moss or the Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch?
Braden: Marshawn Lynch will be involved more heavily in the offense and will likely touch the football more than Moss. That trade might have also pushed Seattle to the top of that very poor division and into the playoffs. However, the Vikings are in desperate need of a deep threat, and if Moss plays hard (which is a total crap shoot at times), then Minnesota returns as the favorite in the brutal NFC North. The worst thing that could happen to the rest of the NFC is a angry, motivated, oh-woe-is-me Randy Moss.
Nathan: Randy Moss has the chance to push the Vikings over the top as a Super Bowl contender. Marshawn Lynch could make the Seahawks’ running game respectable. Now, for the long term, Lynch gives Seattle a feature back of the future, while Moss could go one-and-done in Minnesota and bolt as a free agent. Randy’s all about straight cash, homey.
Steven: With Sidney Rice sidelined and Bernard Berrian invisible in the stat column, Randy Moss will have a bigger impact on his team. Moss should take some of the pressure off of Percy Harvin and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, while giving Brett Favre another downfield threat. The Vikings desperately needed help in the receiving corps, and Moss appears to be the perfect answer — provided he doesn't get disgruntled over a game with two catches or Favre missing him on a deep pass. Lynch was a good pickup for Seattle, but the offensive line is a question mark and I'm not sure acquiring Lynch is enough to move the Seahawks from a potential 8-8 team to one that can make a deep playoff run.
2. Is Sam Bradford the best quarterback in the NFC West?
Braden: It depends on what side of the bed Alex Smith wakes up on. Some drives he looks like Joe Montana (see the final drive of the Saints MNF game). And other times he looks like an inebriated Jim Druckenmiller. Matt Hasselbeck has led a team to the Super Bowl — yet, cannot finish an entire season healthy. As a future prospect, the answer is no question Bradford is the best of the bunch. But I might still take one of the vets if I needed to get a win today.
Nathan: Sam Bradford is playing the best right now, but his competition is pretty weak. I worry about the rookie’s durability after watching him crash and burn in Oklahoma’s biggest games — BYU and Texas — last season. If I had my choice of NFC West quarterback corps, I’d take the Seahawks’ Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst duo. But, to answer the question, Bradford is currently the best in the NFC Worst.
Steven: No question - Bradford is the best quarterback in the NFC West and should be that way for the foreseeable future. Alex Smith shows flashes for San Francisco, but never seems to put it all together. Arizona's quarterback situation is a mess, although Max Hall has some promise. Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck has posted some good seasons in his career, but at 35, his best days are probably behind him.
3. Over the last two years, Kansas City (OC), San Francisco (OC), Buffalo (OC) and Miami (Special Teams) have made major coaching moves before Week 5 of the season. Are these knee-jerk reactions a good trend for the league?
Braden: My personal theory on firing coaches has two parts. (1) Don't operate in a vacuum. Don't fire someone just to fire him. Have a plan in place. (2) If, as an organization, you have decided he is not the answer to lead the team into the future, then there is no reason to wait. This apparent paradox is what makes these decisions so incredibly difficult — and why "they" make so much money to make them. I always lean towards the conservative end of the firing spectrum. Jeff Fisher and Bill Cowher had some tough years but the front offices stood by them and they returned their teams to prominence. Remember, someone fired Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin and Pete Carroll once and we all know how that worked out.
Nathan: It’s better to cut out the cancer as soon as it’s found rather than let it spread throughout the team — in the form of bad habits developing or, worse, a loser mentality forming. And “knee jerk reaction” might be too strong. Head coaches have spent countless hours game-planning and usually are close personally and professionally with each member of the staff. While we all assume one particularly bad outing results in a firing, usually those moves have been in the works for quite some time.
Steven: After Monday night's debacle against New England, it was no surprise Miami fired its special teams coach and the same holds true with what happened in San Francisco after a slow start. Unfortunately, somebody has to be the fall guy. When something isn't right, outside of a depth chart change, coaching moves are usually the first thing you see when a team is looking for a spark. It's hard to know what was going on inside of each situation for each coach to get fired, but obviously it wasn't working. I think you exercise more patience with head coaches, but coordinators should have a quicker hook. Head coaches in the NFL don't have five years to produce a winner, so we will continue to see changes like this occur, especially at the coordinator spots.
4. What is the best division in football?
Braden: The Football Bowl Subdivision. Wait, we are talking NFL. In that case, I narrowed it down to the AFC East and the AFC South. Each division has a Super Bowl-caliber team (NYJ, IND) and each division has another team among the favorites for a Wild Card berth (NE, HOU with PIT). Each division also has an above-average squad that has a strong shot at slipping into the playoffs (MIA, TEN). Jacksonville is clearly a better team than Buffalo, but I feel that the edge goes the way of the AFC East in each of the other three matchups. All that said, once Matt Stafford returns for Detroit, and with the addition of Randy Moss, the NFC North might finish as the toughest division.
Nathan: The NFC North has two Super Bowl contenders (Vikings and Packers), another potential playoff team (Bears) and a bottom-feeder (Lions) that is not nearly as bad as their record indicates — even without their injured No. 1 overall pick quarterback.
Steven: I think three divisions in the AFC could make the claim for the best in the NFL, but right now I'll go with the AFC East. The Patriots and Jets are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, while the Dolphins should be a threat to reach the postseason once again. The Bills are certainly bad, but the North has the Browns and the South has the Jaguars. Having the Jets and Patriots as two of the top teams in the NFL and the Dolphins in the next tier, the AFC East has to be considered the best in the NFL after four weeks.
5. If you had to trade either Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick, and would receive equal value, which would you get rid of and which would be the future of your franchise?
Braden: This has been one of the single most intriguing story lines in the league this fall. Andy Reid is only person on the planet who can truly make this call as he is in the best situation to make an educated decision. To me, as I channel my inner Dennis Green, the question becomes, what has Kolb really done to prove that he isn't what we thought he was? We expected some growing pains, tough losses and poor decisions in his first season as the starter. If Reid believed he was the franchise QB of the future, enough so to trade a future Hall of Fame quarterback to a division rival, then I just don't see what has happened to change that.
Nathan: I would have traded Kevin Kolb the day after Mike Vick’s game against the Lions in Week 2. I’d be in trouble now that Vick’s hurt, but Kolb’s trade value was at its height three weeks ago. Way back then, he was still a mystery man who many felt could be a franchise quarterback. The more football Kolb plays, the worse his trade value becomes. It may already be too late. Once a quarterback is tainted goods, he’s untradeable. Right, Matt Leinart?
Steven: Kevin Kolb has shown some ability in a few starts, but we don't know enough about him to declare him a franchise starting quarterback. If I had both on my team, I'd trade Kolb and put everything into winning now with Vick. Sure, Kolb is probably a better long-term fit, but Vick is playing at a high level and showed during his time in Atlanta that he could lead teams to the playoffs.
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