Takeaways from the Beginning of the 2021 NFL Regular Season

Colin McGee ’22

The 2021 NFL Season is officially two months underway. This football season has been a great watch as many teams are emerging as contenders. There have also been many intriguing storylines for football fans to follow throughout these two months.

New York Football Continues to Disappoint

Aside from the upstate Buffalo Bills, New York has not been the place to find great football as of late. At the time of writing, the New York Giants and New York Jets have the two worst records in the NFL since 2017. The Giants hold a record of 2-5 after seven weeks of action. The Giants’ season has been defined by crushing close losses and a litany of injuries, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Many see this as a make-or-break year for many in the organization, so it will be fascinating to see what transpires down the stretch.

The New York Jets are a mere 1-5 after Week seven. The team is still finding difficulties finding an identity under first-year head coach Robert Saleh and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. For New York football fans, this is intensely frustrating as Los Angeles has two football teams, the Rams and Chargers, who are both playing great football right now. Hopefully, the Giants or Jets can bring another playoff game to MetLife Stadium sooner rather than later.    

Patrick Mahomes Struggling

Although Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs suffered a tough loss in Super Bowl LV, they were still considered to be on top of the football world. Mahomes is expected by many to take Tom Brady’s throne as the face of the NFL sooner rather than later. The Chiefs reinforced their faith in Mahomes last year as they signed him to a whopping ten-year, $503 million contract extension a year ago, fresh off the Chiefs’ victory in Super Bowl LIV. 

To the surprise of many, the Kansas City Chiefs have a 3-4 record after Week seven. Even more shocking, Patrick Mahomes is tied for the most interceptions in the NFL with Zach Wilson at nine. Patrick Mahomes has simply not been Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs’ defense has not done Mahomes any favors either. The unit has been one of the poorest in the league this year. As they sit tied for third place in their division after being Super Bowl favorites going into the year, it will be very interesting to see how this team responds to adversity.

2021 Rookie Quarterback Class Not Living Up to the Hype

The 2021 rookie quarterback class was heavily considered to be one of the best in recent memory. Five quarterbacks: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, and Mac Jones, were drafted in the first round. It is still very early in all of their careers, yet none of the five have been consistently good yet. Trevor Lawrence, the #1 overall pick in the draft, has had troubles in terms of throwing interceptions. Coupling this issue with being on the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars, who have had a lot of controversy as of late, it is very understandable that Lawrence would experience rough patches.

Zach Wilson, similar to Lawrence, has thrown a high volume of interceptions on a bad team: the New York Jets. Trey Lance is Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup on the San Francisco 49ers, but he got an opportunity to showcase his talent after Garoppolo had to miss a game due to injury. In the limited playing time that he received, he held his own, but a major key for Lance going forward will be Lance completing his passes at a higher clip. Justin Fields played for the Chicago Bears much earlier than anticipated because of an injury to starter Andy Dalton. Fields has not looked polished yet by any means. He has only three combined touchdowns to a staggering 11 combined turnovers. 

Mac Jones is expected to fill the massive shoes left behind by Tom Brady for the New England Patriots. Jones has had solid play, but he is yet to have shown he can be the Patriots’ quarterback of the future. These five quarterbacks will be countlessly compared to each other for the rest of their careers. We must wait and see who emerges as the best of the pack.

Tom Brady Continues to Defy Logic

Tom Brady has recently entertained the idea that he can be able to play until the age of 50. At this point, how can you question the ageless wonder? The greatest football player of all time continues to play as such at the age of 44. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently hold a record of 6-1 after Week seven. 

Shortly after winning Super Bowl LV, Brady expressed how the Buccaneers would be even better in 2021 because of the familiarity that most of the players now have. Brady ranks first in the NFL in passing yards and passing touchdowns (2,275 and 21, respectively), all while only having thrown three interceptions. The Buccaneers are a true threat to repeat as Super Bowl champions for the first time since Tom Brady’s Patriots did it back in 2004.

Multitude of Contenders 

Many teams can be labeled as contenders this year. The AFC East appears to be the Buffalo Bills’ division to lose. The AFC North is home to the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, who sit at 5-2. After seven weeks of action, the Bengals, who are two years removed from having the worst record in football, currently hold the #1 seed in the AFC. In the AFC South, the Tennessee Titans have a firm grip on the division, although the Indianapolis Colts can always go on a run. The AFC West is home to two loss teams: the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

The NFC East is heavily dominated by the Dallas Cowboys, who have a three-game lead on first place. In the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers, in potentially Aaron Rodgers’s last season with the team, hold a 6-1 record. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a two and a half-game lead in the NFC South. The NFC West is home to the last undefeated team in the league: the Arizona Cardinals. Arizona has surprised many by their play this year and look primed to make a big run. The divisional rival Los Angeles Rams, who trail Arizona by only a game, are sure to make this a tight race.

At the halfway point, the 2021 NFL season has met its high expectations. I truly believe that the Super Bowl is very much up for grabs. The home stretch will give us a better idea about who will be holding up the Lombardi Trophy on February 13, 2022, in Los Angeles.

andrewbondarev