There are a lot of bad teams in the NFL, but the Jacksonville Jaguars may be the worst. They don't have the league's worst record, but they're currently on a four-game losing streak and sinking fast. While all eyes are on the level of ineptitude in New York, where the Giants and Jets are both 0-5 for the first time in NFL history, take a closer look at just how bad things are for the Jags. In this week's edition of numbers to know, we're leading with a record that will shed some troubling light on exactly that.
Also highlighted below is Aaron Donald's growing case for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This is hardly news that Donald is vying for the annual award; he does so pretty much every year. But the All-Pro defensive tackle's current campaign is particularly significant, as it's impacting one of the most tightly contested divisions and could play a major role in defining Donald's legacy as one of the greatest defenders of all time.
It was a wild Week 5 Sunday, and there's a lot to go over. John Breech, Ryan Wilson and host Will Brinson break it all down on the Pick Six Podcast; listen below and be sure to subscribe for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
If you're an NFL number-cruncher like me, keep reading for the Week 5 digits you need to know.
After falling 30-14 to the Houston Texans in Week 5, the Jacksonville Jaguars are now the first team in NFL history to lose three straight games to previously winless teams. (Note: This record does not include losses to 0-0 teams in season openers.) In Week 3, the Jags lost to the 0-2 Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. In Week 4, they gave rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals their first win. And this Sunday, the Texans were 0-4 and fresh off the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien before knocking out Jacksonville.
The Jaguars have plummeted since their surprising victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1. Minshew Mania is on pause, and Jacksonville is starting to show the barren roster it gutted this offseason. Doug Marrone seems unlikely to finish the season as head coach, and the Jags should be in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. The New York Jets, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons all have worse records heading into Week 6, but as other previously winless teams have learned this season, you don't realize how much worse your squad can be until you play the Jaguars. Unfortunately for those three teams, none have Jacksonville coming up on the schedule.
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool scored four touchdowns in a 38-29 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. It was a breakout performance for the Canadian-born pass-catcher now known as "Mapletron" and it helped Pittsburgh hit the 4-0 mark for the first time in roughly four decades. The last two times the Steelers started a season with four straight wins (1978 and 1979), they won the Super Bowl. Needless to say, four is a pretty big number for this franchise.
Three of Claypool's touchdowns were receptions — he finished with seven catches for 110 yards — and his fourth score was a two-yard rush. Claypool, who was selected in the second round out of Notre Dame, looks like a legitimate playmaker after Week 5. His emergence is a great thing for Pittsburgh's offense, as it gives veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger another reliable target and takes some of the pressure off fourth-year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster to be the primary pass catcher.
The Steelers already had a championship-caliber defense heading into the season. Now that the offense is finding its stride, this team is well-equipped to compete in a top-heavy AFC North.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald had four sacks in the Los Angeles Rams' 30-10 win over the Washington Football Team on Sunday, marking the 5th time since 2014 that he's recorded at least three sacks in a game. That broke a tie with J.J. Watt and Ezekiel Ansah for the most such performances over that span. Donald now has 7.5 sacks through five games this season (most in NFL), proving that he is still the most dominant pass-rushing force this league has to offer.
Donald has been named first-team All-Pro every year since 2015 and has won NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice in the past three seasons. If he claims the award again in 2020, he will join Watt and Lawrence Taylor as the only players in league history to win it three times. Having a player this consistently dominant is almost an unfair advantage for the Rams, who appear to have rediscovered the groove that got them to the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Stalking the undefeated Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West at 4-1, Donald and the Rams are once again an intimidating presence in the NFC.
The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Las Vegas Raiders by a final score of 40-32 in Week 5. This was the first time Patrick Mahomes lost a game by more than seven points as a starting NFL quarterback. While his professional career is still very young, it took until his 41st start (regular season and postseason combined) for this to happen. He won both a regular-season MVP and a Super Bowl MVP before ever losing a game by more than a touchdown (plus an extra point). That is simply amazing.
But on Sunday, the Raiders served Mahomes his first slice of humble pie. He only completed 51 percent of his pass attempts, weathered three sacks and threw his first interception of the season in the loss. Yes, he threw for 340 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) while putting up 32 points, but he wasn't the most efficient quarterback on the field at Arrowhead Stadium. That distinction went to Las Vegas' Derek Carr, who completed 70-plus percent of his pass attempts for the fifth straight game and posted a season-high passer rating of 126.7. Few could have predicted that before the game.
Mahomes may have suffered the biggest loss of his career at the hands of the Raiders in Week 5, but ultimately this defeat falls at the feet of a Kansas City defense that surrendered 40 points in front of a home crowd. Embarrassing.
The Cleveland Browns intercepted Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers twice in a 32-23 win on Sunday, bringing their NFL-leading takeaway total up to 12 on the season. Cleveland also leads the league in points off turnovers with 52. Six of those points came on a 47-yard pick-six by safety Ronnie Harrison that gave the Browns a 17-point lead over the Colts early in the second half. That play was quickly negated by an Isaiah Rodgers 101-yard return touchdown on the ensuing kickoff, but it's still indicative of how the Browns got to 4-1 for the first time since Bill Belichick was the head coach.
In a season where quarterback Baker Mayfield isn't blowing anyone away with his arm, the Browns have stumbled upon a winning formula: a powerful run game and opportunistic defense. Earlier I touted Aaron Donald as the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year, but Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is giving him a run for his money. Only Donald has more sacks than Garrett's six so far this season. Garrett is the single most disruptive force in Cleveland's defense and a big reason why the Browns are able to create so many extra possessions (and points) for their offense. He is every bit as valuable to the team as Mayfield, even though he rarely touches the ball.
The Miami Dolphins experienced an offensive explosion in their 43-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5. This performance snapped Miami's 78-game streak without scoring at least 40 points, and it came during a cross-country road trip against a team that made it to the Super Bowl on the back of an exceptionally strong defense last season. If Miami is doing this with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, imagine what the Dolphins could look like when Tua Tagovailoa is unleashed on the NFL.
Miami may be on the cusp of putting it all together under second-year head coach Brian Flores, but the offense still has work to do after Sunday's 43-point outburst. The Dolphins only averaged 2.8 yards per rush attempt and were aided by three San Francisco turnovers. The 49ers are an injury-ravaged team with lingering issues at the quarterback position, so let's keep this win in perspective. The Dolphins are finding their stride but are still a couple of steps away from competing for an AFC East title. One of those steps is getting Tagovailoa ready to start.
I'd be remiss not to mention Alex Smith's comeback for the Washington Football Team. His game action in Sunday's loss to the Rams was his first in 693 days. Smith originally suffered a compound/spiral fracture in his leg on Nov. 18, 2018, and it took 17 surgeries for him to make it back to this point. Watching him complete his first pass attempt, with his family in the crowd cheering, will likely stand as the most uplifting moment of the 2020 season.
From a statistical standpoint, Smith did not have a great game. But he ate six sacks and was still standing at the final whistle. That should go down as a win. With Washington's quarterback situation in flux, Smith could be who the team leans on moving forward. He should be named NFL Comeback Player of the Year if he becomes the starter and makes it through the season, regardless of what his win-loss record and final statistics look like when all is said and done.