NOT EXACTLY CRUZ-ING: It took some high drama, but Victor Cruz and the Giants managed to get the job done against Tampa Bay. Photo courtesy Elsa/Getty Images

Each week, the NFL storyline changes. If each play is a verse, each week is a chapter, and each season a book. As with any good story, the trends change and new plots develop. But, it’s important to look beyond the score box when taking a peek at each NFL week. Here are some things that stuck out this past week.

Real Refs: It’s Time to Go Back to Work

This much should be obvious. Maybe the first week wasn’t so bad, but the refereeing in Week 2 has been nothing but atrocious. We had our fun and games when refs got teams wrong or the yardage in correct in the preseason, but not very many people are laughing now.

Just look at one sequence between the Rams and the Redskins. In a goal line situation, the ball popped out of Steven Jackson’s hands. However, it looked as if he was down, and head coach Jeff Fisher through the challenge flag. The problem with THAT is plays involving a turnover are automatically reviewed. And, if you throw a challenge flag on a play that’s supposed to be reviewed, it’s supposed to cost you 15 yards. No penalty was ever docked and the Rams got the ball right back on the one. Then, Jackson actually CROSSES the goal line on a run and, thinking he’s put six points on the board, he spikes the ball. Except the referees ruled him down before crossing the line and counted the “touchdown celebration” as a penalty. Jeff Fisher could’ve challenged, but the refs ALREADY allowed him to use one challenge illegally, so he probably didn’t want to risk being out of challenges before halftime.

And that’s not even a worst-case scenario. All around the league, in almost every game, it’s just what’s happening. If you hear players and coaches openly questioning the integrity of this refereeing, it means they just don’t respect these guys the same way they do the unionized ones.

It might’ve a cute story at some point, but this sequel to ‘The Replacements’, is a lot like the one starring Keanu Reeves…in that Keanu Reeves, as an NFL replacement, wasn’t particularly good, either.

Roger Goodell, I don’t care what the hell they’re demanding anymore, pay your damn referees and let’s, like your league has been touting for the last month now, get BACK TO FOOTBALL.

 

BREES IN THE AIR: After two weeks and an 0-2 start, the Saints 2012 season really could go either way. Photo courtesy Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Time to Panic in NOLA?

It’s never wise to jump the gun just two weeks into a season, but, man, do the Saints look like they’re in trouble. Facing two teams that had sub-.500 records a year ago, drama or not, they looked to be a strong candidate for a 2-0 start.

So much for that train of thought.

The Saints have struggled and the road isn’t going to get any easier. As much as we like Drew Brees and get a kick out of this “Saints vs. the World” mentality, it sure as hell looks like the world is winning right now. In the wake of the several suspensions that ARE still in effect, the Saints coaching staff looks downright overwhelmed at times, and I’m not sure how much that’s going to improve when Joe Vitt is allowed back.

For what it’s worth, New Orleans had a weak defense last year and haven’t done much to address that situation, so you can kind of see how losing to Carolina in Charlotte could happen. But Carolina and Washington? Really? I’m not one to believe in coincidences too often and, if I’m playing the Saints this year, I certainly smell blood in the water.

Rookie Quarterback Reversal

Remember all the hullaballoo that was made over RG3 winning his first game and the other four rookie quarterbacks going 0-4? Yeah, that certainly didn’t last long.

Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson all won in Week 2 and Brandon Weeden, well, is playing for the Browns so we’ll give him a pass as he went for 26/37 for 300+ yards and kept it a game between them and the heavily-favored Bengals.

And RG3? He too had a solid game but his team fell apart around them and his Redskins lost a game that they simply should have won.

What’s my point? My point is all five of these quarterbacks have tremendous upside. Even Tannehill, who was practically throwing from the fetal position by the end of his first game, looked impressive. I have a feeling over the course of the next 15 weeks each one of these guys is going to justify the position in which their respective teams drafted them. The only one who may come off as a bit of a stretch is Ryan Tannehill and he, by all accounts, is being regarded as more of a long-term “project” quarterback.

 

KICKING YOURSELF: Gostkowski’s rare missed field goal is leaving some to believe that league is in a new era of teams much closer in competition. Photo courtesy Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Upsets Do Not Equal League Parity

A lot of people are making light of the fact that a record 19 out of 32 NFL teams are 1-1 after two weeks. Aside from seeing it as an interesting trip into eyebrow-raising numerology, I didn’t take it for very much.

But now some pundits want to use it as the basis for an argument that the league has entered an era of unparalleled parity. Off of what? One eighth of one NFL season? That’s taking a very small sample size and engineering the numbers in your favor.

Here’s how fragile their so-called parity is: if Stephen Gostkowski makes a field goal, there’s one less 1-1 team. If the Giants don’t complete a stunning comeback, there’s another two less. Heck, if Josh Morgan learned to mind his manners and not throw a football at people, there might’ve been ANOTHER two fewer.

The counterargument to my argument is to point out that I am dealing in “what-ifs”, but the parity party is trying to have it both ways. You can’t tell me simply because the Giants rallied and the Patriots and Cowboys didn’t that the entire league is somehow on some new level playing field. Last year’s best team went 15-1 and the worst team went 2-14. Those aren’t exactly “Any Given Sunday”, crapshoot victory numbers.

__________________________
NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing he is on Twitter! Make sure you give him a follow @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!