#WWS 42: NFL Brand Check – First Quarter

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American Football

NFL coaches divide the season into quarters. It was as much a mental tactic as it was a physical one. A quarter, 4 games, was a digestible way to game plan for future opponents, and look back on your own team’s trends.

The first quarter of the NFL season is a roller coaster of emotions. The initial excitement of a team’s promise has worn off, and fans have a sense of where their season lies. Likewise, we’ll do the same from a branding perspective. For all the success a player has branding off the field, nothing can impact a player’s brand like what he does on the field. And now, for a NFL first quarter brand check:

Peyton Manning – No player in the 2013 NFL season has upped their game like Peyton Manning –  at 37 years old. He’s arguably having his greatest season ever, leading the greatest offense in modern NFL history. Two years ago, people feared his career was over. Last season, he threw three picks on Monday Night Football that raised even more doubts. But he’s not only erased all doubts, he looks better than ever. Consider his first four games:

Game 1 vs the Ravens: 27-42, 462 yards, 7 TDs

Game 2 vs the Giants: 30-43, 307 yards, 2 TDs

Game 3 vs the Raiders: 32-37, 374 yards, 3 TDs

Game 4 vs the Eagles: 28-34, 327 yards, 4 TDs

That’s 16 TDs through four games. Papa John’s would be proud.

Drew Brees – Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints have owned Monday Night Football since the first game back post-Katrina in the Superdome against the Falcons in 2006. Since then, they’ve gone 10-2 on Monday Nights with an 8 game win streak. Brees continued his dominance of prime time last week with a 413 yard, 4 TD performance, as the Saints beat the Miami Dolphins 38-17. He tied Joe Montana for third longest Monday Night Football win streak, and with his fifth Monday Night game of throwing more than 4 TDs, tied Dan Marino for first on that list.

Adrian Peterson – Last season’s uber-MVP picked up where he left off with a 78 yard touchdown run on his first carry of the NFL season. Otherwise, it’s been the same story with the Vikings – Adrian Peterson with an otherwise unproductive offense. Which is what makes Peterson’s production even more impressive.

Andy Reid – Most Eagles fan will agree that despite some late game decision making, Reid was a good coach and it was time for him to leave. He was quickly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs, themselves undergoing a rebrand after only one winning season in their last six years. Reid’s first move was bringing in Alex Smith, a quarterback with the precision and accuracy to run the west coast offense. What people couldn’t have planned for was the team having the best defense in the league. A Thursday night game win against the Eagles served early notice that the Chiefs would be good team. A vaunted defense combined with a controlled offense has been a successful formula for Super Bowl teams in the past. It’s up to Reid to come through in playoffs.

Robert Griffin III – The last time we saw RG3, he was limping off the field at Fed Ex in last season’s playoff loss against the Seattle Seahawks. The health of his knee took on a life of its own – should he have played in preseason? Should he have rested more? Did he come back too early? Should Mike Shanahan change his playbook so he runs less? Is he a true, drop back quarterback? Griffin’s first four starts have done little to quell these discussions. Whether it’s by design, or he’s not truly healthy, it’s clear that he doesn’t have the same dynamism that took the league by storm last season. This is one to keep an eye on.

Richard Sherman – Richard Sherman can talk. Everyone knows that. But Richard Sherman also writes for Peter King’s MMQB. Sherman also put up a signature moment with a pick 6 against the Texans to tie the game with 2 minutes and change remaining. Obviously intelligent off the field, his demeanor on the field, combined with his big play capabilities continue to make Sherman a compelling figure.

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