Putting flags on quarterbacks
So much to get to, so little time. We will start with the controversy that is consuming the NFL.
We went from having no idea what was a catch to now having no idea what a legal tackle is, especially when a defensive guy is putting hands on a quarterback. It's so bad, that even quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith are starting to question the rule and its fairness for defenders. There have been 33 roughing the penalties through three weeks this year. Last year, there were 16 roughing the passer calls at this point in 2017.
Hey, no one ever is asking better steps for player safety. No one. But when the game is being completely changed you have to wonder about whether the rule is actually for the good of the game.
Hey, the penalties for head-to-head hits have already changed the culture. And the rule's design of not landing on the quarterback may have the same long-term effect.
Quick side question here: We now have a confirmed case of a defensive linemen who tore his ACL trying to avoid a penalty while hitting the quarterback. So, if defensive players are getting hurt as a fallout of the rule, then let's be honest and admit the rule is not designed for player safety as much as it's mandated for quarterback safety. No one cares if William Hayes shreds his knee. He's not a fantasy roster or leading the Packers vs. the Patriots on Sunday night football. But if one of the big namers taking snaps — guys who also are speaking against the rule mind you — gets hurt, well, no one turns in to see Packers vs. Pats with DeShone Kizer and Bobby Hoyer squaring off.
Let's look at the four roughing the passer callers from last night that were three different layers of the QB protection act:
Tampa Bay's Gerald McCoy got called from a late hit on Roethlisberger which did not looked all that late. Bad call erring on the side of safety. Was it borderline, maybe, but man this is still a fast moving game with monster dudes trying to stop 300-poinds in a split second.
McCoy's teammate Jason Pierre Paul was called when he rushed by Roethlisberger with his hand out and landed a glancing blow on Big Ben's Big Melon. Roethlisberger then turned into Daniel Day Roethlisberger and acted like he was shot with an elephant gun. (Side question: If Jason Pierre Paul hits a QB in the head with his 3-fingered hand, shouldn't that only be a 9-yard personal foul penalty? Sixty percent is 60 percent, no?) It was incidental, but still called.
Pittsburgh monster Stephon Tuitt — all 6-foot-7, 313 pounds of him — got called for roughing on a sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tuitt actually put his hands out trying to brace himself and not fall on the Bucs quarterback.
Steelers safety Sean Davis blitzed and was called for roughing for landing on Fitzpatrick as well. Guess it does not matter that Davis weighs 203 pounds and Fitzpatrick is 22 pounds heavier. And would they make the same call if Davis lands on, say, 260-pound Cam Newton, because otherwise we're not sure how Davis would get Newton to the ground.
You also have to wonder if Drew Brees' tying TD run Sunday in Atlanta — a run in which the 39-year-old shrugged of a very non-physical tackle attempt from a couple of Falcons — was not somewhat a by-product of defensive players not knowing what they can or can't do in terms of touching the quarterback.
Thankfully, the NFL has worked with an independent film maker and come up with a new "How to sack the quarterback in the modern game" short film. Enjoy.
NFL Power Poll
Los Angeles Rams (3-0). The Rams are the most complete team in the league, and dude, that Todd Gurley is some kind of mofo. And don't sleep on the plethora of weapons on the perimeter. Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are not going to apologize to anyone in the "best receiving corps" in the league conversation. It will be interesting to see how the acquired cornerbacks — Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters — respond to injuries from Sunday's win. (Side note: Did you know that when you type Aqib Talib the first time autocorrect changes it to "Squid Taleb" for you? So there's that.)
Kansas City (3-0). Speaking of talented collection of skilled players, man, K.C. is filled with speed and dares teams to pick which angle or avenue they want the Chiefs to exploit. Also, it's may be a bit of an overreaction, but consider the following situation right now: With his 13 TDs and no picks, Patrick Mahomes is the toast of the league. Now, is there any quarterback out there the Chiefs would trade Mahomes for straight up right now? The answer may surprise you.
Minnesota. (1-1-1). Yes, the Vikings are still here. Yes, the Bills, who blitzed Minnesota last week and devastated our survivor pool, is still among the worst teams in the league. Hey, everyone has a floater, right? But this Vikings team is simply too good not to be listed here. This side of the Rams, who the Vikings play in a rare Thursday night meeting of league powers, Minnesota is right there with anyone in terms of complete and well-crafted rosters.
Miami (3-0). Yes, this is too high for a team that is relying on Ryan Tannehill and the NFL running back version of the crypt keeper Frank Gore, but this is the weekly point of the show where we remind everyone in the NFL, that you are what your record says you are. Period. End of discussion. Even with Ryan Tannehill prominently involved.
Chicago (2-1). Do what, 5-at-10? The Bears? Surely you can't be serious. I am serious and, well you know. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixljWVyPby0 I'm not sure there is a better defense in the league now that Khalil Mack is dominating almost every snap. And know this: Mack and super rookie Roquan Smith are only going to get better with more reps and conditioning. Do we trust Mitchell Trubisky? Surely you can't you be serious.
New England (1-2). Hey, embarrassing and at times listless losses at a Jacksonville team that scored 6 points against Tennessee and at Detroit, which lost by 30-plus to the Jets. Is this hyperbole? Of course. Not unlike last year when the Chiefs walked them to the woodshed early in the season. (Side question: Anyone else tired of Shiela's She-Shed AllState commercial? Yeah, me too.) But this team feels broken, and taking on Josh Gordon
Houston (0-3). Is it too soon to be concerned about Deshaun Watson's year two struggles? No wins. Less than 60 percent completion percentage. Only five TDs and three picks. And that's with no worse than a top-five wideout in DeAndre Hopkins and some other pieces. We thought he was going to be an MVP contender. Now the Texans are surely desperate.
Buffalo (1-3). The Bills still stink period. And we'll look back on the final "Buffalo 27, Minnesota 6" and wonder what the bleep happened there. It's not make or break time for Josh
Oakland (0-3). Hey, Chucky, how's this feel? Side note: Jon Gruden is not the only one struggling in his new job. Gruen's replacement, Jason Witten carries more cliches than a sophomore quarterback speaking to the media for the first time. "Converting in the red zone." "Scoring touchdowns not field goals. "Turnovers could be the difference." Really, you think so Doctor. Then last night Witten said the new roughing the QB rules were "left wing." Hmmmmmm. Let the hand-wringing commence.
Arizona (0-3). Whoa, these Cards have been reshuffled. David Johnson is a situational back. Larry Fitzgerald is a decoy. (Side note: No one who watched the SEC is surprised in the least that Christian Kirk is a budding star. Dude has electric speed.) Now Arizona is turning to Josh Rosen as Cleveland is turning to Baker Mayfield. It's hard to understand Sam Bradford or Tyrod Taylor having a place on either of those teams moving forward. And, is not as if those franchises wasted three weeks trying to protect the feelings of their millionaire football players. And if you are not committed to sitting them whole year — no matter what — shouldn't they be out there from week 1 like Sam Darnold?
Ohio State-Penn State is an elimination game. Overstatement, but slightly. Because of the general weakness of the ACC (other than Clemson) and the Pac-12 in general (and the Stanford loss is coming) and the distinct possibility of the Bif 12 beating each other up. If we expect Alabama and Georgia to both get playoff tickets if they are 12-and-bagel and meet in the SEC title game, there's a real chance that let's say, Penn State wins Saturday night at home in overtime and then THE Ohio State wins a tight Big Ten championship game, each team could make a hard argument, especially if all heck breaks loose before December.
Clemson made the right more turning to Trevor Lawrence. Statement. And kudos to Dabo Swinney for handling it quickly, directly and properly. Lawrence is a dude, a long-haired gunslinger who will make all those future NFL wide outs look great speaking down the field against a putrid ACC. Side note: Did you know that currently there is one ranked opponent left on Clemson's schedule. It's the Duke Fightin' Cutcliffes. Plus, even though he would never admit it, Swinney knows he can win the ACC with the 5-at-10 taking snaps. (Hey, give me time, and let's roll with it.) But it's pretty clear that the Tigers have bigger goals and Lawrence gives them a much better chance with the long locks of the big-armed true frosh.
Georgia and Alabama are about to take some time away from CBS. Understatement because, well, the Dawgs and the Tide are the top two-ranked teams in the country and have national interest. But after Georgia walks Tennessee behind the barn for an old-school, black-and-white TV whipping, well CBS is going to have to either a) come up with some second-half 30-for-30 type of short stories, b) rekindle story time with Uncle Verne, c) stand-up routine with ol' One-Line Nick Saban or some other way to fill time. And that may lead to more in-game gambling discussions. (Side note: When Auburn, a 30-point favorite last week, lined up for a field goal up 31-3 with less than two minutes left, the announcer rightly said, "This kick means a great deal more to some folks than others right now.")
First team to 40 in West Virginia-Texas Tech wins. Understatement. Those teams and coaches may need at least 50 to feel safe to win that one. While we are here, because, well "Almost heaven West Virginia," here's the one and only John Denver.
Notre Dame-Stanford, the rest of the country outside of the Catholic church and the Pac-12 want them both to lose. The biggest hurdle to getting two SEC teams or two Big Ten teams in for that matter would be an unbeaten Stanford as the Pac-12 champ or an unbeaten Notre Dame. If either of those happens, then the SEC game between an unbeaten UGA and Alabama could be a true quarterfinal, regardless whether they enter ranked 1-2 or not. Because, if there are four unbeaten conference champs or even three unbeaten conference champs and an unbeaten Notre Dame, it would be impossible seeing a one-loss Georgia and tough to see a one-loss Alabama (although Alabama's perception of season-long dominance would help that conversation) springboard over the rest of the field. Regardless of strength of schedule and power appearance.
This and that
— ESPN next level stats, working off the numbers of each start — and provided he nor the Mets bullpen allowed no more runs in games he left early — here are the numbers of New York ace Jacob deGrom, who has a sterling 1.77 ERA but a 9-9 record. If the Mets had scored 2 runs in every of deGrom's start, he'd be 20-6. If the Mets had scored 3 runs in each start, he'd be 25-1. If the Mets had scored 4 runs in each of his start, Jacob deGrom would be a world-abuzz 30-0.
— It was announced Monday afternoon that the new USL team in town will be the Chattanooga Red Wolves. The social media response — especially to the fact that this controversial new team is now named after an endangered species — have been quite entertaining.
— OK, we have an admission to make. We hate new country. With a passion. But as much as we hate to admit it, well, this damn Florida Georgia Line song is pretty damn catchy, and the video is old-school Travis Tritt on the emotional scale. Give it a roll Spy before you heckle me. And yes, we're embarrassed, but hey, if we can't be honest here, where can we be honest, right?
— The 49ers coach said the team will not explore signing Colin Kaepernick after Jimmy Garropolo's season-ending injury. We offer that with no commentary, just the statement.
You know what time it is.
True or false. (We'll go true.)
True or false on a Tuesday, only old dudes use the term 'true frosh.'
True or false, despite their rocky start, you still would bet on the Patriots to reach the AFC title game.
True of false, if Notre Dame runs the table, they get into the college football playoff.
Sept. 25, whatcha' got?
Will Smith was born today. So was Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. Heather Locklear's birthday is today, as is Mark Hamill, T.I. and Christopher Reeve, Scottie Pippen, and internet sports writing pioneer Bill Simmons.
That's a lot of choices. Well, sometimes we lean on the trumped up "national day of" whatever for our Rushmore.
Today may be too good to pass up. National One Hit Wonder Day. Seriously.
You know the drill, one-hit wonders Rushmore. Go.