It seems the league isn’t too concerned about the rash of joint practice fights; one player weighs in on why they happen, and one coach might have an idea for stopping them. Plus, why Matt Flynn’s New York Jets career might not last long, why the turf isn’t to blame for the run of ACL injuries at Panthers camp, and a rugby player makes good in the NFL
1. I think that if the NFL really didn’t want practice fights they should heed the advice of Saints coach Sean Payton, who told his players: “If you want to fight, pack your bags.” That said, I’m not convinced the NFL doesn’t want practice fights. Again, I’ll defer to Payton here: “For as much as we’re harping about avoiding it, hell, the network puts it on 11 times.”
2. I think there are two reasons why fights break out during joint practice sessions. First: teams practice at different paces, and with different rhythms. Sometimes when you match them up, it just doesn’t jell. The other reason was relayed to me by a player whose team was involved in a brawl this year: “It’s like a free pass. You can throw punches at guys who talk smack without getting punished like you would during the season.”
3. I think if you’re Matt Flynn, and you’ve been shuttled to your sixth team in four years, and you sign with a quarterback-needy team like the Jets who utilize a system you’re fairly familiar with, you’re not exactly encouraged when the head coach reminds bunch of reporters why you were signed: “He was the only one available, too.”
4. I think, after taking in Jets practice on Wednesday (in which Flynn barely participated as he recovers from a tweaked hamstring) I am not convinced he will make the team. It’s not that I was impressed with any other options cycled in during Geno Smith’s absence, I just think the Jets will wait until another veteran hits the market after final cuts.
5. I think with radical Arkansas high school coach Kevin Kelley riding another wave of headlines this week—following his second HBO Real Sports segment, and a bevy of news articles—I’ve thought a lot about why no NFL teams have followed suit. Kelley, the poster boy for America’s anti-punting faction, cites analytics for why he normally opts for the onside kick. While some NFL teams have picked Kelley’s mind, his tactics have barely trickled to the college level, let alone the pros. Is it because NFL special teams are far more advanced and intricate and the research doesn’t hold up? Is it because the statistics don’t truly translate to a game defined by intangibles? Or is it, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post suggests, that “coaches are too wedded to convention,” that they would rather lose traditionally than win radically? My gut: I think over the next few years we’ll see more NFL teams go for it on fourth down, but punting will never be eliminated altogether.
6. I think I’m pleasantly surprised to see National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne distinguish himself this preseason with the 49ers. Although Hayne’s signing was a blip on my NFL radar, my Australian roommate, and cultural compass for all things Aussie, has been asking about him for months, claiming he is a “Derek Jeter-esque celebrity” (her words). It’s nice to see the risk he took in jumping to the NFL might pay off.
7. I think, speaking of coach’s decisions, I was shocked to see some readers cite Darrell Bevell’s admission that he wouldn’t change his Super Bowl play call as reason he would never be a good head coach. I believe the opposite. Bevell was introspective and raw in an excellent story by Peter King this week. I think having conviction in a decision, and also being able to admit to your own mistake, are two reasons why Bevell could be a fine head coach one day.
• ‘I WOULDN’T CHANGE IT’: For the first time in detail, Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell discusses why the Seahawks chose to pass on their final offensive play of Super Bowl XLIX, what went wrong and how he handled the fallout.
8. I think it’s unfortunate that Dolphins safety Louis Delmas and Panthers wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin both tore ACLs during a joint practice on Wednesday at Wofford College, home of Carolina’s training camp for the last 15 years. It sucks that wideout Stephen Hill tore his ACL at Wofford two weeks earlier, too. But to question whether the facilities at the tiny South Carolina school contributed to the injuries is absurd. After visiting Panthers camp, I left thinking that grass was more manicured than most NFL stadiums’.
9. I think the Bills have to be ecstatic LeSean McCoy is expected to be O.K. for the season opener after an injury scare this week. Is there a non-quarterback in the NFL more vital to his team’s success? The only player I can think of is J.J. Watt, but I still give the nod to Shady.
10. I think I am anxiously awaiting Peter King’s rebuttal to Brian Cushing’s Hard Knocks profession to why he doesn’t go to Starbucks: “I used to, and then I realized I wasn't a chick.”