NFL Power Poll
The NFL is about power. Has been long before the most powerful office in the world started sending potshots toward the league on social media.
Thing about the basic cliches. It's about blocking and tackling. (Both are based in power.)
We have to exert our will. (Which is the Reader's Digest definition of power.)
Only the strong survive. (Power, power, power.)
Power running game. Power I. Power well you get the idea.
But the coaches — the guys demanding the power — often run from the moment in which grabbing a game by the neck is presented.
Take Bill O'Brien, whose team had a two-point lead and the ball inside the Patriots' 40 Sunday with less than three minutes left. It was fourth-and-the length of the ball. O'Brien kicks the field goal — playing it by the book mind you — to make it a five-point game. But the book does not account for all the powerful tangents involved, because not all games are created equally.
First, your team was a two-touchdown underdog with a rookie quarterback making his second start and playing in Foxboro, where Pats coach Bill Belichick has never lost to a rookie quarterback.
Second, your opponent has Tom Brady, and since he's right in the GOAT discussion and is among the best all-time in fourth-quarter, game-winning rallies, giving him the ball back is dangerous whether he needs 3 or 7.
Finally, your team has played its heart out for 57 minutes, giving you everything you could possibly have asked for and in the moment when they need your confidence, you send in the field goal kicker.
Passive. Not powerful.
As for the powerless rankings, well, all of them are zip-and-3. Know this: The last team to make the playoffs starting 0-3 was the 1997 Bills. That team was quarterbacked by Doug Flutie.
(Cue Lloyd Christmas. "So you're saying there's a chance.")
1. Kansas City (3-0). We'd feel better about the Chiefs long-term ceiling if a) Alex Smith was better, b) Eric Berry was not done for the year, and c) they played in any other division. We do know this: With Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, that Andy Reid offense is loaded with diverse playmakers.
2. Atlanta (3-0). Man, the fine line that is this league. Atlanta is a dropped pass in Chicago and a flipped call from being 1-2 and every story around the south starts with "Super Bowl" hangover themes. That's the power of a play or two, whether your team makes them or not.
3. New England (2-1). Yes, K.C. housed the Pats in New England, and records and results made in the ultimate power play. But we'll simply ask you this: If you had to pick one team across the league to win the Super Bowl, it's still the Pats, right?
4. Oakland (2-1). That was bad Sunday night, and it looks like Washington may be better than a lot of us believed, considering they are in the top 10 in total offense and defense after three weeks. Still, we believe in the Raiders. We also believe that the Raiders, Steelers and Seahawks all played less than their best this past weekend because of a lot of off-the-field things swirling with anthems and such.
5. Green Bay (2-1). We have the Packers narrowly over the Detroit Lions for one simple reason: Aaron Rodgers still plays in Wisconsin. That dude is so good. Yes, the Lions are a micro-milimeter from being 3-and-bagel and their pieces 1-to-53 may be better than Green Bay. But, dude, Rodgers is the best I've ever seen playing the position. (No, we did not say greatest, most accomplished, we said best, as in watching him play is like watching LeBron play, and we're pretty sure he physically plays and does things with a total and complete package that is the best ever.)
28. Los Angeles Chargers. There's a lot to like about that offense. Future Hall of Famers at quarterback and back-up tight end. Young stars and running back and wide out. But doesn't it seem like every late Sunday afternoon, the around the league update has Philip Rivers and the Chargers down 7 or 3 with 49 seconds left, no timeouts and 82 yards from the end zone? He's this generation's football version of Bandit. Long way to go and a short time to get there.
29. San Francisco (0-3). Yes, the NFC West is crazy. Rams lead the division. Seahawks are 1-2 and have legit offensive line issues. Arizona lost its best player when David Johnson broke his wrist, meaning that Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer, who are a combined 204 years old, must fire up their Rascals and get going. Then there are the 49ers, who are looking to retain some consistency in the division.
30. New York Giants. Yes, they lost on a 61-yard field goal as time expired to stay winless. Two funny side items. First coach Ben McAdoo said after the loss that his team's first win keeps getting delayed, like it's a flight out of LaGuardia or something. Next, what inspired Odell Beckham Jr. to pretend like he was a dog and peeing on the football after a touchdown? He says it was in response to Trump, which is almost as ridiculous as all the rest of this circus.
31. Cincinnati (0-3). The Bengals were feisty, and the Red Rifle — Andy Dalton — looked like Dalton circa 2014. Side question: Not saying he was No. 1 one in the world or anything, but it was not that long ago that we believed Dalton was a franchise-type of QB. In his first five years, Dalton started all but three games and was 50-26-1. He's 6-12-1 as a starter the last 19 games with 20 TDs and 12 picks
32. Cleveland (0-3). Welcome home Brownies, welcome home. When you lose at Indy, you have secured the bottom of the heap.
What's next on the protests
OK, that first chunk was long.
This one is going to be heavy, but we will try to be as brief as possible. The president was back at his Commander and Tweets self this morning, lobbing more social media missives at the NFL.
It's old news now and whatever. We wrote about it around here yesterday and on A2 in today's TFP.
Now a recap since we last met: The Cowboys had the most classy response to this flap, uniformly taking a knee before the anthem then collectively standing during the anthem, which seems like a great show of togetherness and respect for the flag and anthem.
It also means that this story has become so crazy that Jerry Jones is a true leader and a potential social center point, which is staggering. The story is also so crazy that the patriotic star of Sunday — Alejandro Villanueva, who came out of the locker room to watch the anthem and presentation as his Steelers teammates stayed in the locker room — felt the need to apologize for his actions.
Here's the full transcript, and it's pretty strong stuff. We understand his feelings about team and decision and unity, but when we are to a point that a player now feels the need to apologize for going out to watch the anthem, we are so beyond the looking glass it's staggering.
There have been a lot of people discussing this. From Pat Tillman's widow asking for people not to politicize him or his memory. To Greg Popovich unloading on the topic. To Bill Russell taking a knee with his Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Then there's the bottom of the barrel that has emerged its hate-filled prairie dog heads from the seedy underbelly of our society in a gross display of classlessness. People like this Pennsylvania fire chief who called Steelers coach Mike Tomlin just another N-word on social media.
So where are we? Who knows? Remember Jerry Jones is an emotional beacon in this mess.
But we do know this: The NFL has to get its hands and thoughts around how it wants to deal with this.
Donald Trump's antics and antagonizing prove to be a fine distraction and give the league a chance to deflect a hard and simple truth: A lot of Everyday Joe Six Pack who want watch the NFL on Sunday and not think about all the other bad stuff is ticked off about this.
Rightly or wrongly, mind you, it's a simple fact and the more people who tune out and stay tuned out the more the league will feel that.
It may not happen this week or this season or next. But when the fan fare fades of the facts of freedom of speech and Trump's mistakes of social media and pottymouthedness, the NFL has to get a handle on this issue pretty quickly.
Or the league will be facing a sizable and noticeable chunk of fans who went from ticked off to turned off. And they may never come back.
Butch being Butch (again)
OK, that was not as quick as we had planned.
Let's try that again. Let's see if we have the overview of the UT football cycle.
Team underwhelms on Saturday. Butch Jones tries to gloss it over.
Rinse. Lather. Repeat.
Well, Butch decided to end Monday's weekly chat with the media with some bombshells and jabs that even included the dreaded "fake news" comment. (To be honest, fake news is an absolute crutch for the limited folks who have few other answers or avenues and try to escape their struggling messing by blaming the messengers and in this case, it's the message.)
Here's our man Weeds' take on whether Butch being Butch, and whether he could talk his way from hot seat to pink slip.
If you saw Jones' news conference, it ranged from comical — he said he was pleased way too may times for a guy whose team was four-TD favorite and needed a fourth-quarter stop for a 17-13 win — to cross.
The final rant included chastising the media, which is fine, and a ton of coaches do it. But more times than not, they do it early in the press conference. They do it forcefully. And, while this is a bully move, they do it to one reporter.
Butch lecturing the media on how what is reported and what opinions are crafted and how that affects his recruiting is one of the more ridiculous claims we've ever heard in that type of setting. Nevermind his references to being parents, and his flip-flops about the lecturing and then the hollow "we all have jobs to do."
Butch, if you want to be liked by your fan base and the heat on your seat to fade, do not worry about what the media does. Deliver on Saturdays.
This and that
— TFP BID-ness section ace Mike Pare has a great story here on a "survey" done by The Beacon Center on the potential new Lookouts stadium on the Southside. According to that survey, they say 90 percent of the less than 300 people polled do not want local tax money offered to help fund the new stadium. To be fair, The Beacon Center, a conservative Nashville-based think tank, is more vested than Mister Rogers. TBC has already put out two — three if count the attack piece they wrote on yours truly after I called them out — propaganda based articles on their website against tax-payer funded stadiums. They did a survey, and those are the numbers they are reporting. Fine. But considering their strong stance on this issue, it would be akin to completely backing a PETA survey that 90 percent of any group thinks fur is an abomination. (It may be true, but we know the goal of the survey before they started.)
— Details are emerging about Mike Greenberg's new show. Half of the sports radio-altering Mike & Mike morning show for the last 18 years, Greenberg is breaking off for a Today-like TV show on ESPN that was slated for early January. Production has been slower than expected and there are talks it may not start until spring 2018. Also of note, Michelle Beadle and Jalen Rose — two ESPN talking heads whose efforts we enjoy (Jalen and Jacoby is a better radio show than most realize) — will also be part of Team Greenie.
— Also of TV note, LSU-Florida will be the CBS game on Oct. 7, meaning that Jim McElwain will get another chance for a more-talented football team to out play his but for a bone-headed coach to make three or five really bad calls to allow the Gators to win 3-2 or 43.6-42.9 or something crazy.
— Addison Russell, the Cubs great young shortstop, dove into the stands for a ball at St. Louis last night and split a spectator's snacks. The next inning Russell comes out with some nachos for the fan and takes a self. Man, see how easy connecting with fans — and dude was a Cardinals fan, which means he is wired in his DNA to hate all things Cubs — can be with very little effort.
— Man there is a money, can't miss 30-for-30 on deck this week as the ESPN documentary folks talk the Zaevion Dobson story. Dobson, you remember is the Knoxville-Fulton High School football star who laid on his classmates and gave his life when a gunman opened fire. Goosebumps.
Man, this is a loaded true or false Tuesday.
Let's start with one that we have asked before (and may ask again), true or false, Butch Jones is the University of Tennessee head coach for the 2018 season opener.
True or false, there is not a truly great team in the NFL this year.
True or false, there will be fewer protests this Sunday than last Sunday.
On this day in 1580, Frances Drake completed his circumnavigation of the world. Love the Drake.
Bill France Sr. was born on this day in 1909. Man, he'd be ticked off of where NASCAR is and the future it faces.
Serena Williams is 36 today. (Side note: Counting doubles wins, did you know Serena has 41 major titles? That's nuts.)
Olivia Newton-John is 69 today.
Four pretty recognizable names and big-time studs died on this day through the years. Daniel Boone (1820), Levi Strauss (1902), Byron Nelson (2006) and Paul Newman (2008).
Man, Newman had a great catalog, from Coolhand Luke to Hustler and Color of Money to Slapshot to Butch and Sundance and The Sting to Nobody's Fool to Hud to Road to Perdition to Cars to Absence of Malice to a load of others. And that's not even mentioning his salad dressing empire or his car racing. That dude won at life.
As for a Rushmore, Linda Hamilton is 61 today. We believe she is a no-doubt pick for female lead characters in an action movie with her spin as Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, which holds up amazingly well even to this day.
Who else joins her?