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Week 1 of the NFL: the good, the bad, the Tribusky



Soccer 2020: Weird and glorious, argumentative and arrogant, fulfilling and full of stories and the same old Browns and Trubisky the Magnificent and Brady on the ground and Cam up and did I mention weird? Average attendance at 13 NFL week 1 games on Sunday in Pandemic America: 1,085. Appearances at Foxboro: zero. “This felt more like a high school scrum,” said Jason McCourty of the Patriots. “Your parents are coming, but no other fans.”

This is a morning for football, so here it is.

The NFL first week coupon

1. The Washington PA system. When the Eagles took to the field at WFT (I hate that acronym almost as much as I hate It is what it is, but it is what it is), the crickets chirped from every speaker in the empty place. Appropriately inspired, Washington beat Philly 27-1

7.

2. Aaron Rodgers scored 43 points in Minnesota. He pulled for 364 and four TDs, effortlessly. The pack owned the Vikings. Jordan Love was supposed to be on the sidelines on Sunday saying, “What am I doing here?”

3. Gardner Minshew is real and he is spectacular. He completed 19 out of 20. The Jags stunned the Colts. Trevor Lawrence had to watch on TV saying, “I guess Jacksonville is out.”

4. DeAndre Hopkins has a new best friend. Kyler Murray has targeted him 16 times, completed 14, and man, this craft looks great for Arizona and terrible for Houston. Cards 24, Niners 20.

5. Belichick 1, Brady 0. I hate that texture, but it’s there. Cam Newton looked as good as Brady’s heir. It created an offense that Brady could never have done. It’s only a day, but an encouraging day in the new world of the Patriots.

The Bad from NFL Week 1

1. The Browns. The Lions. I don’t know how those fans keep coming back for more. Cleveland was the sexy pick a year ago, lost by 30 at the start, and has never been heard all season. This year, Cleveland was the underhanded choice and lost by 32 in the opening. Enough of the optimism in Cleveland if we’re finally turning the corner. The corner is 362 miles away. As for Detroit: The Lions were up 15 to 14 minutes from the end of last year and tied. The Lions were in the lead for 17 to 14 minutes from the end of this year and lost. Jim Caldwell won nine games in 2017 and was fired. Matt Patricia has had nine wins in 33 games since then and, well, he better win again. Soon.

2. My pick for the Super Bowl. I should look at the bright side of the Bucs. Tom Brady’s first meeting in Tampa Bay was a month ago today. (Seriously.) That was a bad six pick to Janoris Jenkins in the 34-23 loss to New Orleans, though. Brady’s best friend could be the program. Next four games: Carolina, in Denver, L.A. Chargers, in Chicago.

3. Wentz and Garoppolo. It’s just a match, but Carson Wentz and a messy line were out of place in Washington, and Jimmy Garoppolo’s timing with the dimmer receivers was far against Arizona. Two bad losses for NFC contenders.

4. J-E-T-S! MESS MESS MESS! New York was 21-0 down at Buffalo, Sam Darnold vanished to the left, threw himself in a pack of three Bills and a Jet, and guess who got it? Not the Jet. The final (27-17) was very respectable, but the game of the Jets was not.

5. The Colts can’t lose in Jacksonville. Bad choice at a crucial moment for Philip Rivers in his Indy debut. New time zone, same result.

Many stories. To me, you can’t get over Mitchell Trubisky’s.

A few minutes later Bears 27, Lions 23, Nick Foles found Trubisky in the locker room. Foles smiled.

“Whew!” Foles said. “What a month we spent!”

Longer than that, really, for Trubisky. The Bears didn’t choose Trubisky’s fifth year option in the spring. The quarterback first picked Mahomes and Watson, now the two highest paid players in history, and now he had an expiration date. The Bears traded for Foles and agreed to pay him $ 24 million over three years; when coach Matt Nagy put Foles and Trubisky competing for the starting spot, it looked like he was setting the stage for Foles to win the job. Then a funny thing happened. After five weeks of competing, Trubisky won the job. But he didn’t win the job forever. And when he fired high and wide again in the first half of Sunday in Detroit, Bears fans tormented themselves again. The same old Trubisky.

Detroit 23, Chicago 6, 18 minutes left.

“How do you avoid thinking, Here we go again?“I wondered Sunday night. Trubisky, in Chicago, was driving home.

“You can’t go back to that dark place,” Trubisky said. “You can’t go back to, My stats are not good. It’s happening again. At times like these, I find myself focusing on my teammates, the guys you grind with. Our relationships are deep. We support each other. And I think you just have to believe in yourself, believe you can do it, there is still time. “

NFL Week 1: Mitchell Trubisky
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. (Getty Images)

Allen Robinson stunted for 22 yards to kick off the next drive, and Trubisky threw a two-yard TD boxout at Jimmy Graham to start the rally. On TV, Dick Stockton said that the Bears getting their offense was “like pulling teeth in the dentist’s chair”. And that’s how the day had been. The next round was like this, Trubisky took a lot of 18 yards to get to fourth and 41. Then he designed a 55-yard scoring drive, finishing it with a one-yard TD for Javon Wims. Now it was getting interesting. And when Matthew Stafford threw a pick just before the two-minute warning, the Bears shot from 37 yards to win it.

With the first and 10 at Detroit 27 at a two-minute warning, Trubisky and Nagy spoke on the sidelines. The call was a corner street for Miller, the third year wideout from Memphis.

“Dude,” Nagy said to Trubisky, “you’re going to have a fucking touchdown here!”

“I’ll tell you what was crazy,” Trubisky said Sunday night. “I was watching the game on the plane back from Detroit, and that game came up, and the receivers coach, Mike Furrey, said to me, ‘See what 12 did?'”

Twelve for the Bears is the Allen Robinson outfit. Trubisky said: “Allen Robinson has his back to the ball, he can’t see it, but his arms are raised in the air before the ball even gets to Anthony Miller. He knew.”

Think about the meaning of this. Trubisky was supposed to throw this corner at Miller about 35 meters in the air. Chances are Miller would have a cornerback in close cover. If you’ve seen Trubisky on Sunday, or most of last year, it’s not entirely logical to trust Trubisky to throw an accurate pass 35 yards into the air. But Robinson was confident, evidently.

The launch was a strike. Chicago was the beneficiary of rookie Lions back D’Andre Swift who dropped the potential winning pass for landing in the closing seconds, but none rained on Trubisky’s parade Sunday night. A rally like this, and a strike like the winning shot for Miller, was, for a pivotal week, something the Bears desperately needed. Nagy needed it too. He joined Trubisky’s side, and that was when he made the starting call 10 days ago.

“The coach called me on a Friday, and he was preparing to tell me for a long time,” said Trubisky. “At first I didn’t believe it. I was very detailed in my work. My back was against the wall, of course, on the pitch, and all you can do is fight and move on and show my teammates that I can still be the guy.

“I was silent, but I was happy. Really happy. Playing in the NFL is a dream come true for me. I will never take it for granted. At the same time, I’m totally grateful for Nick. He is a fantastic teammate. Here we are, in this competition this summer, and he was saying to me on the pitch, “Wow, great pitch! Awesome! Now you trust this, you see it.” He gave me so many highlights. He’s a guy I want in my corner. “

A game does not come back. Trubisky has to put together a bunch of quarters like this fourth quarter. Sometimes it still seems uncertain and on too many launches Sunday was not accurate. This needs to get better for him to be the long-term guy, everywhere. But at least for a week, the promise of 2017 lives on.

“It’s crazy,” Trubisky said. “I take a lot of bullshit. But as the coach says, you have to enjoy the NFL wins and I will. This was a special day. I am grateful for what I have in life, especially now, with COVID-19 and social injustice everywhere. I am really grateful to be playing football right now.

“The game has made me a better man, a better person. It has made me tougher. That’s why I never gave up today.”

NFL Week 1: Trubisky and Lions Defender Romeo Okwara
Defensive lineman of the Lions Romeo Okwara and Trubisky. (Getty Images)

Just before closing the phone, Trubisky said: “It’s good to see that hard work pays off.”

You may love bears or hate bears. You may have given up on Trubisky a long time ago. But at a time when we weren’t at all sure football was going to happen – and with so much uncertainty about the pandemic ahead – you take stories like this and say, “It’s good to have football back.”

Don’t balance crowds and low crowds, check wearing masks and social distancing, with some of the folks who made Week 1 of NFL 2020 the event it was.

Clete Blakeman
Referee
Houston to Kansas City

“I don’t know where to start,” said Blakeman, speaking of the bizarre offseason and fairly clean opening match.

Start here: Blakeman got a reconfigured crew once the NFL decided to mix the eight-man groups (including the official replay) into regional teams to limit travel due to COVID-19; all seven of Blakeman’s crew officials were new to him since 2019. The first time he saw them in person was on the bus from the hotel to the stadium on Thursday afternoon – all previous fights were on Zoom. Also, no pre-season jobs. Blakeman, who lives in Omaha, asked the coach at Omaha’s Westside High if he could go to some practice to visualize the flow of football. “I probably went to six or seven workouts,” Blakeman told me on Saturday.

Then there was rookie court judge, Joe Blubaugh, who made his first regular season appearance. A pretty difficult concert, not even meeting the guys on your team up to three hours before the game. “Just work on your position,” Blakeman told Blubaugh before the game. “Fall back on what you did. If we need to save you, we’ll get you out. Everything will be fine.”

In the days before the game, Blakeman called a Zoom meeting with his crew and put these numbers: “2012.” That was the year the NFL blocked officers and used substitutes for the first three weeks. When the umpires returned in week four, they had to go racing, the same way Blakeman’s crew should have done in Kansas City. “Think back to 2012,” Blakeman told his team of veterans (except Blubaugh). “We have staged. It has happened before.”

As for the game, the best thing you can say is that the referees – mostly – were not noticed. Two first-half touchdowns were canceled during the review, both on games that were difficult to diagnose in real time. Blubaugh established a touchdown on the second, though it was overturned when Sammy Watkins’ elbow was shown to hit the turf about six inches from the goal line as he reached out to score. As Blakeman promised, Al Riveron saved Blubaugh with a roll over from New York. Neither had much to do with the outcome of the game. The crowd of 15,000 seemed strange to the crew, who were masked. “It felt like a game,” said Blakeman, “but there was a different kind of energy. For me, a [tough thing] was, ‘How do I play this whistle? Do I raise the mask? Take it down? ”. It turns out that suddenly he needs to blow it, Blakeman pulled the mask down with his left hand and blew, and when he realized he was going to blow, he pulled the whistle into his mouth, the lanyard hanging down.

After the game, in the officers’ locker room, Blakeman told his crew: This is one of those games where they won’t be talking about us on ESPN tonight or not talking about us tomorrow in USA Today. We checked it.

The crew gave Blubaugh a playing ball.


Rick Peterson, Derrick Norman
Invoices Fans
New York Jets in Buffalo

Peterson and Norman, both 54 and Bills season pass holders since 2001, lost their first Bills home game in 30 years. Normally, at dawn on a Saturday, they would line up to enter the stadium parking lot with their 35-foot RV and cook, communicate and relax (and maybe get some sleep) for 30 hours before heading to their seats. section 126, row 1, in the corner of the end zone. But this weekend they met Saturday morning at Peterson’s home in the Buffalo area, grilled some ribs and sausages, and then gathered at Norman’s home Sunday to watch the game on the big screen with some friends. Norman wore his Tre’Davious White jersey, number 27. Peterson chose a classic: Thurman Thomas, 34.

bill fans in week 1 of the NFL

“We’re treating it like an away game,” said Peterson, a transportation worker from Buffalo. “I’ve only missed one game since 2001, but I’m trying to stay even. It’s out of our control. It’s a pandemic.”

“It’s killing me,” said Norman, a Buffalo firefighter.

Norman got up at 5 (“I couldn’t sleep, too anxious!”) And started cooking with his wife: mac-and-cheese, sweet potatoes, fried egg rolls, potato salad, fried chicken. It’s the food they would have feasted on in the parking lot a few miles away; but today it’s a huge spread in his home. At half-time, with the home team at 21-3, Peterson and Norman were too stunned to complain about not being in section 126, row 1.

“Can you imagine?” Norman said, preparing for the second half. “Can you imagine if we were there today and the place was full? Pandemonium! We would go crazy! “


Jason McCourty
Patriots Cornerback
Miami in New England

No fans in Foxboro. So odd, to see the empty parking lots, the empty four-lane Route 1 next to Gillette Stadium on match day (it’s usually full as a parking lot before and after the game), hear the silence that greeted the six-time Super champions Bowl when they went out for the pre-game warm-up.

“The atmosphere,” McCourty told me after New England opened the post-Brady era with a 21-11 win over Miami, “from the moment we stepped out of the tunnel, it was unlike anything none of them had. we heard … You can’t really imagine what an NFL game without fans is like. It felt more like a high school scrum. Maybe you travel somewhere for a fight and your parents come, but no other fans. When you play in a stadium without fans, without noise, you have to carry your energy for three hours. “

On the sidelines, it was a constant topic of conversation. “The kids were like, ‘That’s not it,'” McCourty said. “And you win, no one to high five, no kid to throw gloves on. You realize that we will have to do a lot of this ourselves, generate a lot of energy ourselves. “


Ian Eagle
CBS play-by-play announcer
Cleveland to Baltimore

Eagle’s broadcast partner changed last spring from Dan Fouts to Charles Davis. Usually, new partners meet a few times in the off-season, get to know each other, talk about how they like to work. Not in a pandemic. CBS had 16 weekly Zoom calls for the Eagle / Davis broadcast team in the spring and early summer. “It was like 12 hours of speed dating for Charles and me,” Eagle said. Their first face to face? Saturday afternoon, sat outside at a deli in Baltimore’s socially distant Inner Harbor for 45 minutes.

Ian eagle and Charles Davis
CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle, left, and color analyst Charles Davis. (CBS Sports)

On an average weekend, the broadcast team watches the home team practice on Friday; in-person interviews with the home team manager and players on Friday; interviews on Saturday visiting the coach and players in person. Plenty of time to mingle with the crew for dinner on Friday or Saturday, plenty of time to study or take a nap. Now, everything is done virtually. Eagle lives in northern Jersey, 193 miles from downtown Baltimore, and so they did his Ravens interviews on Friday before driving to the hotel. Then a COVID test Saturday morning at the hotel, then virtual interviews with the Browns in the late afternoon on Saturday. Then the game.

The first odd thing: the plexiglass partition between Eagle and Davis. “Sometimes you want to touch your broadcast partner,” he said Sunday night. “Today, however, we made eye contact.” There is usually a procession of friends and supporters streaming through the booth. Not Sunday. The door closed before the game and didn’t open until the end of the game, with Eagle, Davis, audio engineer Al Boleau and spotter Jim Stamos the only ones present in the stand; statman Butch Baird was in the empty stands, three rows in front of the stand, according to the rules of the league.

“It’s a little creepy,” Eagle said. “There are usually 70,000 cheered fans in Baltimore in one of the NFL’s unique venues, just a great atmosphere for a game. For example, Lamar Jackson does something right now, and if I’m missing something, the crowd grabs it and draws the my attention on it. But today, of course, it’s not there. They’re keeping score, though, and so you get into it. “

Eagle said this is one of the stadiums where broadcasters have to enter the “teeming masses of people” around the stadium to reach the parking lot at the end of the game. Last year, after a game in Baltimore, it took him an hour to get his car to I-95 for the drive home to North Jersey. “Nobody today. It took me 90 seconds to get to 95, “he said. Thank God, the New Jersey state troops weren’t doing the radar around dinner time on Sunday. Eagle arrived home at 7:03, in time for the dying moments of Bucs-Saints.


Anthony Lynn
Coach, Los Angeles Chargers
L.A in Cincinnati

The shippers traveled on Friday, arriving at their Cincinnati hotel at 11pm. The players were advised not to leave the hotel, but they were not prevented from taking a walk. But in the 38 hours before Sunday took the buses to the stadium in Cincinnati for the late afternoon game, well, Lynn didn’t want her players to be prisoners.

“For me, travel is the real test this year,” Lynn told me from the bus on the way to the airport Sunday night, after the Chargers beat the Bengals 16-13. “How disciplined can we be? How patient? How to understand the drawbacks? So we won’t have many in-person meetings when we travel. Here the offense had a 15, 20-minute meeting in the hotel meeting room on Saturday night, then the defense had one. The special teams were on Zoom. The other meetings, Zoom. Coaches want to get their hands on the player. I understand. But these are different times. “

Anthony Lynn
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn. (USA Today)

As for the game: “Simply different. Really different. I had to watch what I was saying and be careful how loud I was, because I didn’t want their boys [the Bengals] to listen to me, of course. Being on the sideline, I felt like I could hear every word the boys were saying on the pitch. The other thing is the fans. Without the fans and the noise, it was such a different feeling. Fans are an important part of the game and I think we’re starting to realize how big it is after seeing a stadium without fans. It has an impact. “

I asked Lynn, “What do you think of the NFL testing 3,600 people from 30 teams, players and staff on Saturday, and not a single positive person?”

Lynn was blunt. “It’s pretty simple: we want to play football.”


Bob Conduct
Seahawks beat the writer, the Seattle Times
Seattle to Atlanta

I don’t know how many beat writers did what Condotta did on Sunday morning in Seattle – settled in his living room, laptop on his lap, watching the covering team play on his 55-inch TV – but there were more than a few. Welcome to NFL 2020 coverage, the same coverage as MLB and NBA and NHL for many media outlets during the pandemic. With reporters now cut off from accessing locker rooms at home and on the go, and cut off from covert access to players and coaches for little news to make or break stories, Condotta is covering matches in for now. way from his home in Auburn, Washington. He’ll be in the Seahawks press room for home games. Most access to players and manager Pete Carroll will be via video conference. After following the team at home and away weekly since 2013, this is the new world of Condotta.

seattle writer

As the Seahawks were beating the Falcons 2,600 miles away, Condotta said, “I miss the pre-game, seeing what the boys look like. You don’t always see on TV which defense they are in, or who is on the pitch, if the defense is nickel or dime. Part of the story today was what the team did before the game, and I think Jamal Adams threw a fist and Russell Wilson was in a prayer circle, but I’m going to find out about these things.

“But I’m not mad. I think we’ve all come to the conclusion that there are many, many bigger problems in this world than me not covering a football match.”

At the bottom of his story in the Times today, there was this editor’s note: “The Times refused to send reporter Bob Condotta to Atlanta for this game due to COVID-19 security concerns.”

Offensive players of the week

Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago. Under 23-6 early in the fourth quarter, Trubisky didn’t have to imagine what Bear fans around the world were saying about him; he knew. All he did in the fourth quarter was throw three TD passes and lead the Bears to the most unlikely victory of his young career.

Gardner Minshew, quarterback, Jacksonville. This is how magic is produced. The Jaguars, reported dead in 2020 by most people who have seen at least one football match in their lives (myself included), beat the Colts favorites 27-20. The quarterback everyone wants to tank, Minshew, completed 19 of 20 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, including Keelan Cole’s 22-yard strike for winning points with six minutes left in the game.

Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle. Another case of incredible efficiency from an incredible quarterback. Four touchdown passes, four incompleteness. Wilson, in the first game of his ninth season of the NFL (man, where did the time go?), Completed 31 of 35 pitches for 322 yards, with four TDs and no picks, all under pressure or fired 13 times. Maybe this is finally the year Wilson wins his elusive MVP, or at least gets his first MVP vote.

Defensive players of the week

Aldon Smith, word of mouth, Dallas. Interesting: In the official NFL play-by-play since Sunday night’s 20-17 Rams victory over the Cowboys, Smith is listed in the starting lineup as DPR. “Designated Pass-Rusher.” He was more than that in his first NFL game in four years and 10 months. Smith, lost in football and adrift as a person in 2015 due to substance abuse issues, turned his attention back to sobriety and football, and saw himself on Sunday night. He led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, one layoff, two quarterback pressures and one tackle for loss. “I’m hard on myself, but I’ve done some things well,” Smith said. An auspicious reappearance by a great player who may be back on the path to greatness.

C.J. Henderson, cornerback, Jacksonville. In his first NFL game, ninth overall pick, playing short distance from his college campus in Florida, he had three interrupted passes and a Philip Rivers interception in the Indianapolis overturn. I’ve watched this game a lot and the thing I’ve noticed about Henderson is how comfortable he felt in his first game on professional soil. Imagine not making optimizations before your first start in the NFL and imagine facing a 38 year old quarterback with 16 years of experience and imagine being as cool as the other side of the pillow. I can understand why the Jags loved Henderson.

Jamal Adams, security, Seattle. Hopefully these three great Jets GM Joe Douglas draft picks won for this last day Kam Chancellor pay off. Adams was fantastic in his Seahawk debut when Seattle beat the Falcons 38-25, leading all tacklers with 12, firing Matt Ryan once and pressing him twice more, with two more tackles per loss. He made his presence felt with a huge first-half hit on Julio Jones. Adams best play of the day: With Calvin Ridley in a Jet sweep at the Seattle 19-yard line, Adams swooped in and stoned Ridley for defeat.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Margus Hunt, defensive lineman, New Orleans. Estonian 6-8, who played for the Colts last year, got so high in his leap that he blocked a Ryan Succop shooting try in the final of the first half that the ball hit him in the elbows and chin . Instead of having the Bucs ahead and making 14-10, Hunt’s block gave the Saints a first down to their 45 with 3:18 left in time, and New Orleans was able to lead for a basket before the half. .

Justin Hardee Sr, defensive, New Orleans. The four-year veteran from Illinois made a huge play at the end of the game, with the Bucs desperately trying to get back into the game. Thomas Morstead aimed for the Bucs return Jaydon Mickens at the Tampa 10-yard line, and Hardee crossed Jamel Dean of the Bucs to drop Mickens in his tracks – zero gain – a millisecond after the punt landed in the hands of Mickens. What a tremendous instinctive game of Hardee.

Coach of the week

Bill Belichick, coach, New England. Brought on a quarterback in late June to replace Tom Brady; he had to rearrange (with Josh McDaniels) so much of what they do up front with Cam Newton playing instead of Tom Brady. Newton ran for two touchdowns on Sunday in a 21-11 win over Miami. He replaced all four starting linebackers and kept Miami at 269 yards. Great coaches take what they have and find a way to win. Belichick only did this for most of his adult life, and his first chapter after Brady was quite a while.

Goats of the week

D’Andre Swift, running back, Detroit. The second-round rookie from Georgia lost his first NFL game. No exaggeration there. Down 27-23 with six seconds left, Swift went behind two Chicago defenders and Matthew Stafford found him with a perfect shot in Swift’s chest and the ball unfortunately bounced off Swift’s hands in the end zone. Many players have contributed to the outcome of their games. But the painful truth about this beautiful ball dropped by an open D’Andre Swift is simple: if he gets it, the Lions win. But he dropped it and the Lions lost.

Philip Rivers, quarterback, Indianapolis. A difficult but familiar-looking way to start his new life as a Hoosier. In the final five minutes in Jacksonville, Rivers threw an interception that was his fault, setting a guaranteed field goal, then threw three blunders in the last minute to lose the ball on downs. This is not what GM Chris Ballard paid $ 25 million for.

The browns. Have you seen the 32-point defeat to Baltimore?

I

“From the moment I walked into this building, man, I felt something special about this team. I know we have what it takes to get what we want. But it’s one day at a time. We continue to work. “

—Arizona DeAndre Hopkins Panoramic Receiver

II

“It was as clear as day.”

—Ram Jalen Ramsey’s cornerback, on the offensive interference call on the pass to Cowboys catcher Michael Gallup which influenced the outcome of the Cowboys-Rams game.

Agreed NFL Refereeing:

III

“F – !!!”

—Several players, heard on television broadcasts above the white noise (particularly at Bucs-Saints) of fanless games during Sunday’s NFL.

IV

“Pylon cam, doubt of returning. Lesione alla parte superiore del corpo. “

—Scott Hanson di NFL RedZone, dopo che Cam Newton ha scavalcato la camma del pilone su un TD in corsa nel terzo quarto, il suo secondo TD in corsa per i Patriots.

V

“Se avrò un’altra possibilità, qualcuno assumerà una persona migliore della persona che è uscita quella sera il 19 agosto.”

-Thom Brennaman al New York Post, due settimane dopo essere stato sospeso per aver pronunciato un insulto gay su una trasmissione televisiva di baseball dei Cincinnati Reds il 19 agosto. FOX Sports Ohio lo ha sospeso e la squadra NFL della FOX lo ha escluso dal suo lavoro play-by-play.

VI

“È stato difficile. Voglio essere qui, ma non so se il sentimento è reciproco. “

—Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Di recente, lui e il team hanno interrotto le trattative contrattuali, inducendo a ipotizzare che Ertz non firmerà un’estensione a lungo termine.

Notizie interessanti da Ian Rapoport domenica. Ha riferito che Ertz e il GM Howie Roseman hanno avuto una disputa a voce alta un giorno la scorsa settimana.

VII

“Non sono abituato a vederlo.”

—Jamal Adams, nuova sicurezza di Seattle, dopo la vittoria per 38-25 ad Atlanta, sui Seahakws con 38 punti. Adams giocava per i Jets, che, come ha notato, non hanno segnato 38 punti molto spesso, in effetti, solo quattro volte nelle 49 partite da quando Adams è entrato nella NFL nel 2017.

Totali impetuosi per gli ultimi due debuttanti della serata di apertura di Kansas City al running back:

7 settembre 2017
Kareem Hunt
17 carry, 148 yard, 8,7 yard per carry, 1 TD

10 settembre 2020
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
25 carry, 138 yard, 5,5 yard per carry, 1 TD

Hunt ha continuato a vincere il titolo di corsa del 2017.

io

Sembra quasi troppo bello per essere vero. Sabato mattina la NFL ha testato circa 120 giocatori, staff e personale essenziale della squadra in 30 squadre (tutte tranne le squadre del giovedì sera), più circa 90 lavoratori dello stadio (equipaggio arbitrale, banda di catene, addetti agli spogliatoi, sicurezza dello stadio) per i 15 stadi in gioca domenica e lunedì. Sono circa 5.000 persone. E, secondo la NFL, tutti sono risultati negativi per COVID-19.

II

Nella prestigiosa sezione del New York Times Book Review del 20 settembre, l’elenco dei best seller di saggistica con copertina rigida ha una top 10 abbastanza tipica (per i tempi in cui viviamo).

Ci sono cinque libri sul genere delle elezioni Trump / 2020, tre sullo spazio della giustizia sociale, un libro di memorie … e uno sul calcio professionistico. “The Dynasty”, il libro completo di Jeff Benedict sulla ricca storia di 25 anni dell’era del Super Bowl dei patrioti, è il numero 10 nella sua prima settimana idoneo per l’elenco.

III

Il giovedì è un grande anniversario nel calcio professionistico. È il 100 ° anniversario della fondazione della NFL. (In realtà, il campionato è stato chiamato American Professional Football Association per le prime due stagioni, ma è cambiato in National Football League nel 1922 perché, come ha detto il presidente della lega Joe Carr, “Sembrava più professionale.”)

Il 17 settembre 1920, 15 uomini in rappresentanza di 10 squadre di calcio del Midwest si incontrarono in uno showroom di automobili di proprietà del concessionario di automobili di Canton (Ohio) Ralph Hay, anche proprietario della neonata squadra di professionisti dei Canton Bulldogs. L’affluenza ha sorpreso Hay, che aveva comunicato alle organizzazioni calcistiche che stava formando un campionato. He didn’t expect 15 men to show, and he didn’t have the meeting space for them, so they gathered in the showroom. Young George Halas, representing an interested team from Chicago, the Decatur Staleys, sat on the running board of one car; one of the most famous athletes in America, two-time Olympic Gold medalist Jim Thorpe (he won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics in Sweden), representing the Canton Bulldogs, sat on another running board.

It was all so different then. Teams joined the league for a cost of $100, they started playing each other 16 days later, and Thorpe—to capitalize on his fame—was named league president. Imagine that: a player/president. That lasted for one season, while Thorpe played 13 games for the Bulldogs.

An eerie side note: The league might have started a couple of years earlier, in 1918, but a number of players on professional teams went to fight in World War I, and many cities in the country banned large gatherings because of the pandemic sweeping the United States in 1918. Back then, it was the Spanish Flu—the last pandemic to sweep the United States for 102 years. Till this one.

IV

In the last 100 minutes of play between Houston and Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium, KC has had 18 offensive possessions. In order: TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, TD, field goal, punt, punt, TD, TD, field goal, TD, punt, TD, punt, field goal. Six-plus quarters, 85 points.

io

Mathieu is a safety and captain for Kansas City.

II

Arizona wide receiver Hopkins, after his 14-catch performance keyed Arizona to a 24-20 upset NFC champ San Francisco in Santa Clara.

III

Cimini, the veteran Jets’ scribe, writing with the season one hour old and New York trailing in Buffalo 21-0.

IV

Battista covers the NFL for NFL.com and NFL Network.

V

React to me by email at peterkingfmia@gmail.com, or on Twitter.

Thinks the column has gotten too long. From Dave Smith: “You have been my ‘must read’ guy for years. However, I am becoming less interested in your reporting as time passes. Your articles seem to be getting longer, and longer, and longer. I suppose I prefer the Readers Digest version of reporting. So, now I find myself reading less and less of what you write, skimming rather than sinking my teeth into your excellent work.”

I really appreciate the note, Dave. The columns have been longer than ever, on average, in the past few months, and you’re not the only one who says, Man, I can’t read 11,000 words. Edit yourself. This note is going to make me think more and more about whether an idea that I have is really worthy. For instance, last week, I really wanted to do something relevant on the death of John Thompson. So I got Tony Dungy to contribute what I consider valuable thoughts about Thompson’s importance to Black coaches in all sports, at all levels. Those are the kinds of column chunks that end up fattening up my piece. But I do think I can be more economical. Appreciate you sending a reminder.

Thinks McCown is endangered. From Tiffaney O’Dell of Gresham, Ore.: “I’m wondering why the Eagles think Josh McCown is ‘safe’ from COVID in Texas with his sons playing high school football. Seems like high risk activity to me.”

Never thought of that, Tiffaney. Interessante. But all along, McCown was an insurance policy for the Eagles that they hope they don’t have to use, and they couldn’t have gotten him if they told him, Quarantine for the year, because he wasn’t going to leave his family.

Thinks the Niners-Packers scheduling is unfair. From Lawrence Jones, of Rochester, N.Y.: “From your past columns, I know that creating the NFL schedule is an exceedingly complicated venture, with many constraints and factors that come into play. For example, the actual opponents are chosen based upon a team’s final record and a four-part formula. But what about home field parity?  I think the Packers are getting robbed, having to go west to play the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara two years in a row. Fairness would dictate that San Francisco should come east to brave the wilds of Lambeau Field. Given how important each game is in a season, how can the NFL not care more about home-field parity?”

A four-year snapshot: SF-GB at Lambeau, 2018 . . . GB-SF in Santa Clara, 2019 and 2020 . . . SF-GB at Lambeau, scheduled for 2021. In the regular season between 2010 and 2021, Green Bay hosted or will host San Francisco four times, San Francisco hosted or will host Green Bay four times. This used to be talked about all the time in the Pats-Colts series. Colts at Pats, 2004, ’05, ’06; Pats at Colts, 2007, ’08, ’09; Colts at Pats, 2010, ’11, ’12; Pats at Colts, 2014, ’15. These things tend to even out.

Thinks the Walt Anderson fixes are smart. From Jamie Sims: “Walt Anderson discussed adjustments that NFL officials will be making this season. What caught my attention is that trying to slow down/stop when a play happens is not a new philosophy to professional officiating. Being still when a play happens is a fundamental tenant of MLB officials. As an amateur baseball official, there are a couple key teaching phrases (based on MLB principles) that are emphasized over and over: 1) be still when the play happens, and 2) angle is more important than distance. I applaud the NFL for working to make the game better.”

Good point, Jamie.

1. I think Washington coach Ron Rivera deserves a back-pat today for staying the course—and for aiding in the construction of a defensive front that absolutely abused Carson Wentz. Eight sacks by seven different players, and an additional 14 quarterback pressures or hits. After the Eagles scored a touchdown and field goal on their two first-quarter drives, this was Washington’s game, all the way. “This game validates their resilience,” Rivera told me after the game. “I congratulated them after the game, but I also said, ‘Who played in the first quarter?’“ For the WFT, it was good to start playing sports again. The scandals wore on the players. “The thing I tried to get across, to people inside and outside the organization, is we made a lot of mistakes, and we’re trying to correct them,” Rivera said. “We’ll learn from the past, but we won’t be stuck in the past. And the players seem to have bought into that.”

2. I think Rivera had a good point on the good COVID record with so few positive tests over the past month. “The whole idea of testing every day has really kept the players where they need to be. Like this weekend, they got tested Saturday morning with a temperature check, they got up this morning, another temperature check, got to the stadium, another temperature check. Having that hanging over them can be a good thing—they don’t want to be the one to let down their teammates. Hopefully, what we’re doing here can inspire some people. To me, it kind of speaks in a totally different way to the era of the greatest generation. Obviously not the same, but people did what they absolutely had to do to get things done. They didn’t want to let down their fellow citizens.”

3. I think the most impactful new player on any team Sunday was Jamal Adams. He brought a ferocity to the Seattle secondary I hadn’t seen since Kam Chancellor’s run, and if you know Pete Carroll, you know he wants a rangy, hitting secondary.

4. I think I didn’t like Lamar Jackson getting hit as much as he did last year (199 combined rushes/sacks) and I didn’t like the couple of big whacks I saw Sunday against Cleveland. I know he’s so effective playing this way. I just want him to last.

5. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an NFL back who runs more violently than the 5-10, 220-pound Alexander Mattison. That guy is a top 25 NFL back who just happens to play behind a top five back, Dalvin Cook.

6. I think I know why Bill Belichick called Aqib Talib, 34, last week and offered him, in Talib’s words, “the role of a lifetime.” Talib thought about it, but said no, and announced his retirement. Not only was Talib a very good cover corner and as competitive a corner as the league has employed in my time covering football, but he was a great team guy. Belichick knew that, from having coached Talib for two mid-career seasons. So what’s a team guy? It’s not a cliché, at least not in this case. I’ll tell you a story.

In 2017, before a Giants-Broncos Sunday night game on NBC, I went to Denver to do a story on upstart young quarterback Trevor Siemian. We arranged to have his car outfitted with a bunch of Go-Pros, to interview and shoot him driving to work one morning around 5:30. We got it done, and I was preparing to leave the players’ parking lot around 5:55 a.m. A vehicle pulled in. Talib got out. Second player at work that day, first on defense. “Aqib!” I said. “You’re early.” He smiled, we chatted for a bit, and he let me know, basically, that This is every day.

As for his playing legacy, after 12 years and 159 games, with 35 picks and a remarkable 10 touchdowns on interception returns: I loved watching him cover. I swore he knew when back judges were looking and when they weren’t, because he played to the very edge of the rules for contact. Two plays stick out to me, both from the end of the AFC Championship Game in Denver against the Patriots in January 2016:

• With the Pats down eight on fourth down deep in Denver territory, Tom Brady threw for Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone, with Talib in coverage behind Gronk, his right arm deep around Gronk’s ribcage; Brady threw, Talib jumped higher than Gronkowski, and he batted the high ball away. But the Pats had one last chance after scoring with 12 seconds left to make it 20-18, Denver.

• On the two-point conversion try, Talib, at left corner, was singled on Julian Edelman, split wide, Edelman at the snap, ran a shallow cross, trying to use a Denver defender to rub off Talib, who powered through it. Brady threw for Edelman at the goal line, and here came Talib, flying into the play, tipping the pass away, and right into the hands of Denver’s Bradley Roby. Ballgame.

That was the real Super Bowl for Denver, beating Brady and the Pats. They went on, of course to beat Carolina in Super Bowl 50. But on the two biggest defensive plays of the AFC title game, Talib batted away Brady throws for points. That’s how I’ll remember Talib.

7. I think my Twitter feed is filled with people saying they’re finished with the NFL because of the hum of social-justice issues before and during games. Three comments:

a. There’s a good chance many of them are lying. Though the Thursday night Houston-Kansas City opener was down in viewership from last year’s Packers-Bears (22.3 million for two national teams in 2019, 20.3 million for two less attractive teams nationally, though with marquee QBs, this year), this year’s opener drew 1.3 million more than Falcons-Eagles two years ago. And this game was not at all dramatic, pretty much over at 24-7 five minutes into the second half.

b. I don’t doubt some people who say they won’t watch football will actually follow through. But let’s see the evidence first. A cratering of ratings, 25 to 30 percent, would be bad news for the league at a time when the NFL is negotiating long-term TV and streaming extensions with networks and media companies. But it’s hard for me to think, as the season goes on, that a couple of minutes spent on society’s ills in a three-hour, 15-minute telecast, and some end-zone words (END RACISM, for instance), would cause millions of people to stop watching football.

c. Would a Cowboys fan, angry at some players on his favorite team kneeling for the anthem, not tune in to see the early-December Thursday nighter between the Cowboys and Ravens if Dallas was a Super Bowl contender? When TV ratings for football go down appreciably in Texas, that’s when we’ll know the league has a problem.

8. I think this essay from Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News is what we—and you, directly—are missing this season, and let us hope this is only one unique season when it comes to media access. Gehlken writes:

“Last Thanksgiving, I was among a group of reporters who stood outside the Cowboys’ locker room following a loss to the Buffalo Bills. We heard screaming inside the closed room. A voice we did not recognize tore into players. Only a few words were decipherable. Not all were printable in a newspaper. Minutes passed. The screaming stopped. The locker room finally opened to media.

“As a reporter, I needed to figure out who that was, what exactly was said and how it was received. After several conversations in about 20 minutes, I ascertained it was Michael Bennett, a defensive lineman whom the Cowboys acquired recently in a trade. I interviewed him and wrote a story. This season, those screams would not be heard. The locker room would not be worked. There’d be no interview with Bennett. No story.”

9. I think this is not Gehlken crying about the restraints on the job in 2020. This is Gehlken telling you the reality of extremely restrictive (understandably so) media policies that will make reporting on the game significantly less colorful and insightful. That is all.

10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:

a. Happy birthday, Roger Angell. The legendary baseball writer for The New Yorker turns 100 on Saturday, and writer Mark Singers journeyed to the party in Brooklin, Maine (pop.: 824), complete with a speech from Maine Gov. Janet Mills celebrating Angell’s life.

b. Angell wrote this six years ago, at age 94, after the Giants beat the Royals to win the World Series:

“I missed Christy Mathewson somehow but caught almost everyone else, down the years—Lefty Grove, Carl Hubbell, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Jack Morris, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson—but here was the best. Madison Bumgarner, the Giants’ left-handed ace, coming on in relief last night in the fifth inning of the deciding seventh game of this vibrant World Series, gave up a little opening single, then retired fourteen straight Kansas City batters, gave up another hit, and then closed the deal. The Giants won, 3–2, claiming their third World Championship in five years. It was almost his third victory of this Series—the scorers had it that way for a time, then gave the W back to Jeremy Affeldt, the left-handed reliever who was still the pitcher of record when the Giants went ahead in the fourth. Bumgarner, who lost a game along the way, in the Divisionals, on a little throwing error of his own, winds up at 4-1 for his October. He had won a game in each of the Giants’ World Championships, in 2012 and 2010, and now, at twenty-five, stands at 4-0 in the classic, with an earned-run average of 0.25. He was pitching on two days’ rest but also on manna: possibly the best October pitcher of them all.

“Sure, we can talk about this: we’ve got all winter.”

c. Angell is one of those people I’ve read since discovering him 40-some years ago, one of those people who would force me to stop any time I saw his byline. Happy birthday, Mr. Angell, and many more.

d. There’s too much fighting in hockey.

e. You’ve got my respect, Kyle Lowry. You too, Marcus Smart.

f. If you didn’t like Game 6 of the Celtics-Raptors Eastern Conference semis, you don’t like sports.

g. Explicatory Forest Fire Story of the Week: Richard Read of the Los Angeles Times on the explosive fires ravaging Oregon, and why they’re terrible this year. This is a good primer on exactly what is happening in the West to make conditions unprecedented. Writes Read, from Eugene, Ore.:

“Nearly nine months pregnant, Elisha Goodrick was cooking chicken piccata Monday evening when she noticed something eerie — weather like she had never experienced in western Oregon.

“It was strange enough to see ash falling like snow outside her kitchen window as a wildfire galloped through mountainsides somewhere above.

“But what alarmed her was the pounding on the roof as an extraordinary wind raged in the tops of Douglas firs, raining branches on the blue-shingled house. It wasn’t long before a volunteer-firefighter friend called.

‘Get out now,’ he said.”

h. Oregon state climatologist Larry O’Neill, to Read: “Climate change is not an abstract concept anymore. This is what it looks like.”

i. Heartbreaking Story of the Week: Capi Lynn of the Salem (Ore.) Statesman-Journal, on a father losing his son in one of the Oregon fires.

j. Tough read. (H/T, Sunday Long Reads, for steering me to that.)

k. Frightening Story of the Week: Charlotte Alter of Time on the danger of so many people in America believing total, absolute nonsense. Writes Alter:

“Democracy relies on an informed and engaged public responding in rational ways to the real-life facts and challenges before us. But a growing number of Americans are untethered from that. ‘They’re not on the same epistemological grounding, they’re not living in the same worlds,’ says Whitney Phillips, a professor at Syracuse who studies online disinformation. ‘You cannot have a functioning democracy when people are not at the very least occupying the same solar system.’ “

l. In the wake of this horrible week for thousands and thousands of people left homeless by devastating fires comes this news.

m. You have got to be kidding me. Tell me this is a joke. Tell this to families who have lost loved ones to the fires, or who have lost homes. Or both.

n. “He’s not just in left field, he’s not even near the ballpark.”

o. Watched a very good documentary last week: “Class Action Park,” on HBO Max, on the defunct New Jersey water park that was ridiculously dangerous and poorly regulated. Lucky for me as a New Jersey parent, the park was gone by the time my kids would have been of age to risk their lives there. The 90-minute show is really a harrowing balancing act. You spend the first half of this doc thinking how cool it must have been to survive Action Park with its too-dangerous rides and spate of injuries and deaths, and the second half feeling guilty that you thought it was Jersey Cool to wink at the danger.

Pittsburgh 30, New York Giants 16. The last time Ben Roethlisberger was healthy, in 2018, he led the NFL in passing yards and had the deadly duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster to torment defenses. Now it’s Smith-Schuster with Diontae Johnson, an impressive rookie last year, and tight-end-sized rookie wideout Chase Claypool, who had a great training camp. With a healthy Roethlisberger, the Steelers should contend for the playoffs, and this is a good time to get the Giants. Joe Judge seems to be making progress in Jersey, but it’s hard to see bright spots when the left tackle opted out, the best young corner got fired over an armed-robbery charge, and the defense doesn’t seem markedly better than the 30th-best scoring defense from a year ago.

Tennessee 23, Denver 20. Nice debut for the explosive Denver offense, but not quite nice enough. I keep thinking about the Denver pass-rush, which was supposed to be one of the league’s most dangerous with the drafting of Bradley Chubb in 2018 to team with Von Miller. Poor Vic Fangio, the defensive coach hired to play chess with Miller and Chubb. They played four game together last year, then Chubb was gone with a torn ACL. Miller suffered a possible season-ending ankle injury last week. That means that this potentially great 1-2 pass-rush punch (how would we know?) might be Fangio’s to use for four games in his first two seasons as coach. Plus, Chubb enters tonight managing some residual ACL soreness. “It’s going to be a little challenging,” Chubb said Saturday. Not what you want to hear from the only stud pass-rusher you’ve got left on the eve of the season, against a Titans team with a rising passing game.

Gotta love Minshew.
Sixth-round, cowboy-hatted bro.
Have met him. Good dude.




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