Two teams dealing with a lot of internal strife at the moment. The first is Miami — the Dolphins have had a full week to digest their blowout 41-14 loss to New England on Monday Night Football, a game that cost special teams coach John Bonamego his job. The firing was a stunner, but it wasn’t without cause — Bonamego’s unit allowed a 103-yard kick return by Brandon Tate, a Patrick Chung blocked punt, a Patrick Chung blocked field goal and, two weeks ago, also had a punt blocked by the New York Jets.
The series of events cast some real doubts as to whether the Dolphins are contenders or pretenders. After racing out to a 2-0 start that included a big road win in Minnesota, Miami has dropped back-to-back divisional games and now sits third in the AFC East. This weekend, things don’t look to get any easier at the Fish travel to Green Bay to take on the high-flying Packers. But wait — might it actually get easier?
It certainly might. The Packers are arguably the most hurting team in the NFL right now and several key players’ statuses are up in the air for Week 6. Pro Bowl QB Aaron Rodgers suffered a concussion against Washington last week and there’s no indicator on how healthy he’ll be. TE Jermichael Finley will miss at least three weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Throw those two onto the huge pile of Packers on the injury list: Al Harris, Atari Bigby, Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, Morgan Burnett, Brandon Chillar, Donald Lee, and Mark Tauscher. LB Clay Matthews, the NFL leader in sacks, had to leave the Washington game with a strained hamstring. It’s a mess in Green Bay right now.
San Diego Chargers (2-3) at St. Louis Rams (2-3)
Two of the most disappointing losses from Week 5 were suffered by the Chargers and Rams. The Chargers lost a 35-27 stunner over Oakland, a team San Diego had beaten 13 consecutive times. Once again, special teams proved to be San Diego’s undoing — the Raiders blocked two punts — and the concern now is that Charger special teams have gone from a “problem that can be fixed” to a “problem that can’t be fixed.”
St. Louis, meanwhile, suffered an equally demoralizing loss to the previously winless Lions. We say “demoralizing” because there’s no other adjective to fully encapsulate how bad it was; the Rams were fresh off a big divisional win over Seattle and looked primed to make a run at the wide-open NFC West. But by losing 44-6 to Detroit — the Lions’ biggest margin of victory since 2007 — the Rams took a major, major step back. They also lost leading receiver Mark Clayton (right knee) for the remainder of the year.
The Clayton injury is going to cost the Rams as the season progresses. Even though he joined the team late, Clayton emerged as rookie QB Sam Bradford‘s preferred target and the two seemed to have some real chemistry going in the early parts of the season. Now, Bradford is without his security blanket in a head-to-head matchup with Philip Rivers, the NFL’s passing leader.