Week 5 in the NFL brought a few wild upsets, another coaching change and a devastating injury.
The season of the reigning NFC champion San Francisco 49ers may be unraveling after another loss. The Atlanta Falcons fired both their coach, Dan Quinn, and their general manager, Thomas Dimitroff. And Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a compound ankle fracture and dislocation that almost assuredly will end his season. Meanwhile, some teams like the Cleveland Browns are already starting to string together a series of impressive performances as they look to strengthen their early-season resumes for the playoffs.
Here are the Week 5 winners and losers:
Could this finally be the year when Cleveland is a contender? The Browns toppled the Indianapolis Colts, 32-23, in a matchup of 3-1 teams. Cleveland has now won four in a row and has scored 30 or more points in each of those victories. The Browns are 4-1 for the first time since 1994, when Bill Belichick was the team’s head coach and Alabama coach Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The second half revealed some offensive struggles — the team’s possessions after intermission were an interception, punt, punt, interception, field goal. There also were a few mental lapses and drops by receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. But the Browns showed just how vital their small tweaks this offseason have been. Adding offensive line coach Bill Callahan and investing in the group with rookie offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. and veteran right tackle Jack Conklin have helped quarterback Baker Mayfield settle in the pocket.
We may have seen a rookie become a legitimate star in real time when Steelers receiver Chase Claypool scored four total touchdowns in a 38-29 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Credit Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner for moving Claypool all over the field to exploit favorable matchups.
Sometimes a change is just what a team needs to reset. And after the Texans fired former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien last week, Crennel stepped in as the interim. Houston, with its 30-14 victory against the Jaguars, overcame some recent problems. Even though the performance was against a weaker opponent, for the first time in 17 games, including the postseason, the Texans put up 30 points. The offensive line, which entered Sunday having allowed a league-worst 16 sacks in four games, allowed Deshaun Watson to be taken down just once. And Crennel, as the oldest coach in NFL history at 73, got the victory.
Not only was he active for the first time, but the Washington Football Team quarterback took the next step in his remarkable comeback from a leg injury that required 17 surgeries. Smith stepped in after starter Kyle Allen was knocked out of the game with an arm injury. Washington lost to the Rams, 30-10, and Smith was sacked six times. His numbers (nine of 17 for 37 yards) were pedestrian.