It wasn't long ago that 37 catches, 593 yards and six touchdowns was a really good season for a tight end. Heck, Jared Cook had 44 catches, 523 yards and four touchdowns just last season for Tennessee, and St. Louis rewarded him with a $35 million contract in free agency.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has put up that 37-593-6 line in just five games this season.
Graham is on pace for 118.4 catches, 1,897.6 yards and 19.2 touchdowns this season. If he can keep up something close to that pace, we're not talking about greatest season for a tight end anymore, because that would be a closed case. We'd have to start comparing his season to every pass catcher who has ever played the game.
Graham's size, athletic ability and skill with the ball in the air, along with an all-time great quarterback in Drew Brees throwing him the ball and a creative offensive-minded head coach in Sean Payton, make him nearly unstoppable. In a 26-18 win at Chicago, Graham had 10 catches for 135 yards. The Bears couldn't keep him from getting the ball. According to the NFL, Graham's fourth straight 100-yard game tied the NFL record for a tight end, matching Tony Gonzalez's four in a row in 2000.
With Rob Gronkowski still out, the gap between Graham and the next best tight end in the NFL is hilariously large. Brees and Payton might be the biggest reasons the Saints are 5-0, but the potentially historic season by Graham is also a major factor.
Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 5:
Cincinnati Bengals defense: Sure, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been off this season. The Patriots passing game hasn't had its normal rhythm, Brady is getting hit too much and his receivers are lackluster, even with Danny Amendola back.
But it takes a truly special effort to keep Brady out of the end zone.
The Bengals have a strong defense, and that's why they have a great shot to win the AFC North. Cincinnati's offense still hasn't gotten going, and that's a problem, but the defensive effort on Sunday was tremendous. Brady was 18-of-38 for 197 yards, and his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at an amazing 52 in a row. The talk this week will probably be about the struggles of the Patriots and Brady, but that sells Cincinnati's defense short.
Nick Foles: Chip Kelly said after Sunday's game that there was no quarterback controversy, that Michael Vick is the starter. That's fine, but you know that the next time Vick struggles, there will be calls for Nick Foles.
Foles played well after Vick went out with a hamstring injury against the Giants. He went 16-of-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns in a 36-21 win. He might not be an obvious fit in Kelly's read-option based offense, but that wasn't a problem against the Giants. Philadelphia's quarterback situation will be interesting to track the rest of the season, especially if Vick falters.
Kansas City Chiefs: They're 5-0 for the first time since 2003. They held the Titans without a first down until about eight minutes remained in the second quarter. Even better for Kansas City, it has three road wins, and it's hard to miss the playoffs if you put up a great road record. What a remarkable story this Andy Reid career revival has been.
Everyone who watched Denver at Dallas: I know, you're an old-school fan and hates that nobody in the NFL plays defense anymore. And I agree, a 13-10 game can be incredible. But that game in Dallas was something else. Witnessing two offenses execute like that was special. What a game.
Matthew Stafford: Last year, Stafford had an average-at-best season. His raw numbers ended up looking OK because he threw a ridiculous 727 times, but he wasn't very good. And he had one of the greatest receivers in NFL history to throw to. What happens when he doesn't have Calvin Johnson? Well, it wasn't pretty.
Stafford was a pedestrian 25-of-40 for 262 yards with Johnson inactive, and the Lions got just nine points against a Packers defense that gave up 412 passing yards to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Week 1. The Lions were very thin at receiver but still, Stafford got an extension this offseason that made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game. He's not capable of carrying an offense like the guys in that upper class. He's just paid like they are.
Miami Dolphins: Yes, I know, all that matters are wins and losses, and all other stats are for losers. I heard from you when I had the gall to point out that the Dolphins' 3-0 start might be a bit of a mirage considering they were out-gained in all three wins.
Well now they've been out-gained in five straight games, and haven't gotten much luck the last two weeks. The Ravens, who haven't looked all that great themselves this season, rarely trailed as they won 26-23 at Miami, giving the Dolphins their second straight loss. Even an interception return for a touchdown couldn't save the Dolphins from a loss. Miami isn't a bad team, just not as good as its 3-0 start.
Ron Rivera, Cam Newton, Mike Shula, and the 2013 Carolina Panthers: Everyone deserves blame for how bad the offense has gotten in Carolina. An example came at Arizona, when the Panthers trailed 12-6 and had a third down and 3 in the red zone. They had a break at the end of the third quarter to call a great play. They called a simple back-side slant that was easily read by linebacker Daryl Washington and picked off.
The Panthers have nothing on offense. The decision to keep Rivera this offseason was bad, the wholly uninspiring hire of Shula as offensive coordinator was worse. And Newton is having another terrible start to a season. He hasn't gotten better, but then again, the front office has done absolutely nothing to help him.
After a truly putrid 22-6 loss to a bad Cardinals team, the 1-3 Panthers are irrelevant for the rest of the season, at least until they become the first team this year to fire their coach.
Titans coach Mike Munchak's field-goal decision: OK, someone needs to explain this for me. Tennessee trailed 26-17 with 2 seconds left. Munchak decided to send out the field-goal team.
Unless Munchak has figured out how to kick a nine-point field goal, this made absolutely no sense.
The field goal was no good, but it wouldn't have mattered if it was. And, sure, a Hail Mary was meaningless too (except for gamblers who had the Titans plus-3 on the spread), but why make the conscious decision to kick a field goal on the last play of the game? Would it make the Titans feel better to lose by just six points instead of nine?
It doesn't matter, it didn't hurt anything, it was just a truly bizarre decision.
The Team That Drafted a Punter Instead of Russell Wilson™: The Jaguars' march toward an 0-16 record against the spread, a record that would be truly and absolutely remarkable, continued with a 14-point loss against St. Louis. (But Blaine Gabbert officially passed JaMarcus Russell as the worst regular NFL starting quarterback of the last 20 years, so congratulations on that!)
If the Jaguars (0-5 overall, and 0-5 against the spread) can fail to cover the spread over an entire season, it would be a record we'd tell our grandchildren about. Next up for the Jaguars? The Denver Broncos.