5-at-10: Falcons land QB1, three NFL teams that crushed Monday, women’s brawl a blip or trend?

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins warms up before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins warms up before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

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AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — Wow, we head South for a few days and a few dozen shrimp and the sports world starts spinning like a mid-1980s breakdancer leading into Fab Five Freddy's monologue on MTV Raps!


Let's roll with this, because those sand castles are not going to build themselves folks.

Kissing Cousins

Not sure of the percentage of folks around these parts, but even though we are in the Volunteer State, this is an Atlanta Falcons area by my calculated estimate.

So friends, what do we make of the Kirk Cousins deal?

First, the good.

Point A) It was not a surprise. This has been his reported landing spot for a hot minute.

Point B) Cousins is a definite upgrade over the dreck taking snaps in Mercedes Benz since Matt Ryan was Matt Ryan.

Point C) Cousins has weapons in Atlanta, and with weapons through the years — Minnesota in the day with guys like Dalvin Cook and Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson (granted there is no Justin Jefferson on the Falcons roster, but you get the idea) to TJ Hockenson — Cousins has cooked.

Tuesday trivia: From 2019 through 2022, can you guess which NFL QB1 had the most passing yards?

Correct. It was Patty Mahomes.

Can you guess who was second? Nope, It was Tom Brady.

Wanna try for third? Yep, it was Kirk Cousins, who in that four-season stretch completed 67.1% of his throws for 16,636 yards, 123 TDs and a 101.3 passer rating. The yards were third over that stretch; every stat ranked in the top five across the league.

Now the bad.

Point negative A) It's a huge cap hit. $180 million over four years with $100 million guaranteed.

Point negative B) Cousins will be 36 before the season starts and is coming off a torn Achilles.

Point negative C) For all the Falcons weapons, the offensive line needs some upgrades, and for all his eye-popping numbers above, over that same stretch Cousins was the sixth-most sacked QB in the NFL. And that was before the Achilles.

Is it a gamble? Of course.

But it's a gamble worth taking, especially if Cousins is the guy the new coaching staff pushed chips for.

If Cousins' the guys for Raheem Morris and OC Zach Robinson, who came from the Rams, then maybe Cousins could have a Matt Stafford like effect on a young roster that now has to be viewed as the favorite in the NFC South.

For a franchise that has perennially been in a wait till next year loop a win-now move — and this is assuredly that — is exciting.

And refreshing.

And, like we discussed Monday, filled with the eternal hope that only the offseason can bring to football fans.

More (anything but) free agent news

It was a feverish weekend capped Monday with all the news.

Someone get Adam Schifter a cocktail and put it on my tab. (Side question: What do you think Adam Schefter's go-to drink order is? Discuss.)

Still, the league was movin' and shakin' Monday. Let's rank the three biggest moves in terms of the league power rankings and the smiles on the faces of the fans of those teams.

1. Kansas City. The Chiefs have back-to-back rings and hunting history. (Spy, you caught the hunt reference, right?) They ponied up — stay gold Pony Boy — and made Chris Jones the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. They franchised-tagged L'Jarius Snead, a top-tier cover corner. They got the band back together, and in a deep WR draft — if the Chiefs draft Ladd McConkey at the end of round 1, look out — Kansas City is poised to come back better than last year.

2. Philadelphia. Wow, Saquan Barkley just moved to No. 2 on everyone's fantasy draft board, and why not? He's in Philly. He's playing next to a top-10 QB in Jalen Hurts and with arguably the best WR1-WR2 combo in the NFC. And he's going to be motivated to show the Giants what they let get away. Plus, the Eagles added a much-needed pass-rusher in Bryce Huff. The Eagles may not be the clear favorite in the NFC, but they are in the team picture.

3. Green Bay. Josh Jacobs — who also just became a top-five fantasy pick — is a major up-grade at RB1 over the co-habitants of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillion. Although AJ Dillion's monster thigh muscles allowed for the nicknames "The Quadfather" and "Quadzilla," and that will be missed. But Jacobs is a dude, and right behind Saquan as the best RB in this class. Green Bay also added the best safety — a major position of need — in this cycle in Xavier McKinney, and that's two monster upgrades as the Packers look to maximize Jordan Love's rookie deal. Plus, Minnesota's clear step back means good news in the division.

An ugly trend

The end of a tough, hard-fought SEC women's basketball title game over the weekend was marred by a nasty brawl that will cause South Carolina's star center Kamilla Cardosa to miss the first round of the NCAA tournament.

It also featured some punk brother of one of the LSU players running on the floor getting in the melee. You stay classy, San Diego.

I thought the premise of this AP story was sound in how the women's game is growing and attracting more eyeballs, but what they saw Sunday between USC-LSU was not good. At all.

But also in that story was this eye-popping paragraph about the games across women's basketball:

"Last November, the NCAA said it was putting a new emphasis on sportsmanship after last season saw a 33% increase in technical fouls, including a 77% increase on techs given to head coaches and a whopping 193% increase on technical fouls assessed to personnel on the bench. Ejections were way up and there were at least two prominent on-court fights."


Maybe the refs have more rabbit-ears.

Maybe coaches are telling their players to be more aggressive and more physical, which could help soften the numbers in the on-court technicals.

But the others?

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley — right there with UConn's Geno Auriemma and LSU's Kim Mulkey as the faces of women's college basketball — handled the aftermath of the brawl in interviews very well.

(Mulkey not so much. Here's Mulkey's postgame quote: "It's ugly. It's not good. No one wants to be a part of that. No one wants to see that ugliness, but I can tell you this: I wish (Kamilla Cardoso) would've pushed Angel Reese. Don't push a kid; you're 6'8. Don't push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing go at it." You stay classy, San Diego.)

Staley after the game said in interviews: "I just don't want the people who are tuning in to women's basketball to see that and think that is our game, because it isn't. Our game is a really beautiful thing."

It can be, Coach, and it still is.

But Sunday's scrum is way more of a trend than I realized.

This and that

— Wow, want to talk about a power play? Monday, the NAACP published a letter Monday urging Black athletes not sign with Florida public universities because the University of Florida has eliminated its Diversity and Inclusion offices because of a recent state law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

— Yikes, did you see the story that the new statue of Kobe Bryant outside the Lakers arena has four typos on the plaque. Egad. As Ralphie Wiggum famously said, "Me fail English? Unpossible." (And yes, now that I shared that story, I will have even more typos than normal.)

— Brutal bad beat (again) for Jay's Plays Monday night. We had Samford-ETSU over 146. The final was 76-49, which is a bad enough beat. But the teams combined to go a dreadful 2-for-8 from the foul line in the final 18 seconds. Ouch-standing.

— Dalton Knecht was named SEC player of the year Monday. It was not a shock. (Side note: I loathe the 10-man All-anything first team. Five dudes play, pick five dudes, and pick them at something close to their positions.) Here's more from Paschall.

— You know the rules, when Hargis writes on prep football, we read. Here's a story on Boyd-Buchanan football coach Gary Rankin getting inducted into the national high school sports hall of fame.

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.

True or false,the Falcons make the playoffs.

True or false, you were happy with your NFL team's moves. (Feel free to share why or why not.)

True or false, you watch more women's basketball now than you used.

True or false, the NAACP letter will have an impact on recruiting Black athletes at Florida public universities.

True or false, you could make more than 2 free throws in 8 attempts.

You know the drill. Answer some T or F, leave some T or F.

As for today, March 12, let's review.

Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time on this day 130 years ago. Since the Lupton family fortune was made on the bottling process of Cokes, that anniversary helped build a lot of things — the Aquarium and The Honors for starters — in our lovely town.

On this day in 1987, David Robinson scored 50 points in an NCAA tournament game. I remember watching that game.

Rushmore of military nicknames in sports.

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