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I’m not at all qualified to discuss sports, professional or otherwise. Or, at least, not in the view of the people who believe Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment is anything other than a morally righteous comeuppance, an inevitable reaction to a decorated athlete of color speaking his mind. How dare a person have thoughts beyond their scope of expertise? Can’t he just keep quiet, perform for the fans and accept his sizable paycheck? Why doesn’t he #sticktosports?

Given that thought process, none of us are qualified to form an opinion on, really, anything. Your dentist shouldn’t tell you what he thinks about the Mets’ starting rotation, nor should your accountant divulge his thoughts on Gary Bettman’s perpetual dismantling of professional hockey. Drill the teeth, find the tax breaks, shut up and do your job. Most notably, of course, the current POTUS wouldn’t be anywhere near his position had much of his base applied to him the same logic they – liberally – apply to athletes, given his complete lack of political experience and expertise prior to assuming the role[1].

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Regardless of what happens on February 5th, the 2016-17 NFL Playoffs have undeniably been an offensive showcase. Some of this was due to the best defenses in the league (Denver, Baltimore) inexplicably missing the playoffs in favor of a Ryan Tannehill Matt Moore-led Dolphins team[1]. There were also multiple playoff teams with legitimate game changing defensive stars (Earl Thomas, Khalil Mack, and J.J. Watt) who fell prey to injuries. With the road cleared, the NFL’s streaking QBs and star skill position players drove down the field on nearly every possession. Al Michaels surely hopes everyone bet the over.

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Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Nothing quite inspires hope in a despondent NFL fan base like the arrival of a talented, young quarterback. While most fans know a promising QB prospect cannot carry a team to a championship alone, the league’s history has shown time and again how teams with great talent at the most important position tend to overcome any competition lacking it by mid-January. Last year, Denver provided a great blueprint for circumventing this trend when they dragged a broken Peyton Manning through the playoff gauntlet, but there are exceptions to every rule. It is impossible to deny that building a championship-contending football team typically starts at the quarterback position.

Still, it is also clear that, as more focus is placed on this position, the more everyone from fans to team executives lose sight of the bigger picture. The “top-tier QB or bust” rule seems to be causing problems around the league because it has changed with the latest collective bargaining agreement. Conventional wisdom now says: As soon as a franchise’s quarterback shows serious promise at the pro level, said franchise must go into “win-now” mode.

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Has anyone else noticed that something seems a little off with professional football, lately? Sure, the NFL is still showing up to work on time, and credit is due, it now even shows up on three days a week instead of just two. Technically, it is still doing its job just fine, and it is definitely not disrupting anyone else’s job either. Hell, it even cracked a smile a few times last week, but… there is just something missing.

This league used to be so passionate about its job. Now it seems to be punching the clock and waiting until the end of the year to really put in the real effort. There is some noticeable sloppiness too: more penalties, a drop in primetime ratings and two ties in one year. That is just not the league everyone has learned to count on for so many years. That’s not the real NFL. Without prying too much, is it time to ask the league some tough questions about its performance?

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Patrick Smith/SI.com

High expectations can be dangerous; overreactions, even more so. Change is unavoidable, so no one should be too shocked that the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals are both 1-3. It could be an unlucky streak, or it could be a changing of the guard. It is simply too early to say. Of course, some things never seem to change. To the frustration of many, the New England Patriots keep winning against all odds because Bill Belichick is a true football savant who consistently switches up his strategy to outwit the opposition. These narratives are not going anywhere, as fans will definitely still be debating the fates of these preseason favorites deep into December and January.

In the meantime, it’s better to focus on the developing subplots. These are not the stories that receive the most attention early on because everyone is too busy losing their minds over their fantasy season not working out as planned. These are the fun developments that show a player making the leap from good to great or the weird trends that threaten to turn the league upside down before they inevitably become just another footnote.

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