The Absurdity of Questioning Kaep’s Status as Starter, Why the Jared Allen Trade Works for Everyone, and Rex Ryan: Players’ Coach
2. I think the Jared Allen trade can make everyone happy—including coach John Fox. By trading the aging pass rusher, general manager Ryan Pace proves he is fully committed to Fox’s 3-4 scheme and correcting mistakes of regimes past. (Admitting there was a mistake, as in guaranteeing Allen’s $11.5 million roster bonus in March, is the first step to recovery). If you’re not going to get the most out of Allen, and he’s cannibalizing snaps that could go to younger talent, why keep him around?
3. I think I was surprised that it was the Panthers who traded for Allen, and not just because defensive end Charles Johnson’s hamstring injury may not be that serious. This just doesn’t feel like a move Carolina would pull in the past, but it shows a win-now mentality, capitalizing on Cam Newton’s prime and bleak times in the NFC South.
4. I think if you hear people describe Rex Ryan as a “players’ coach” and wonder what that means, here’s a good example: Following their dud performance against the Patriots, the coach had linebacker Preston Brown and safety Corey Graham lead the defensive meeting room for a week. The point: disprove the idea that it is “Ryan's defense” when, in fact, it belongs to the players.
• THE REX EFFECT: Rex Ryan is starting fresh in Buffalo, infusing the franchise with qualities that have been in short supply since the Bills’ Super Bowl heydey: personality, excitement and optimism. Brash? He’s OK with that, too.
5. I think I’m worried about the Dolphins’ pass rush. A week after Tyrod Taylor was sacked eight times by the Patriots, Ndamukong Suh and Co. could barely even graze the jersey of the first-year starter. In fact, after three games the Dolphins only have one sack, and that was by rookie Jordan Phillips. What was supposed to be a top-tier unit is now yet another woe for Joe Philbin.
6. I think I’m buying the hype on Cal quarterback Jared Goff. The play that won me over: two weeks ago against Texas, down 10-7, on fourth-and-3, a back-shoulder fade to Kenny Lawler in the end zone. A perfectly placed pass, even better awareness.
7. I think it feels weird to see linebacker Stephen Tulloch become a role player in the Lions’ defense.
8a. I think besides Amari Cooper, there’s another reason Derek Carr has been a revelation: The Raiders’ offensive line has posted excellent pass protection. In Sunday’s win against the Browns, Pro Football Focus graded the O-line well, allowing only three quarterback pressures, no quarterback hits, and surrendering zero sacks.
8b. I think, when you have an ascending star as dynamic as Cooper, I’m uneasy watching him returning punts (as Jack Del Rio reaffirmed he will continue to do). Is that really worth the risk?
• THE RAIDERS ARE IN GOOD HANDS: After drafting Amari Cooper and signing Michael Crabtree to catch passes from rising star Derek Carr, the Oakland offense might finally be headed in the right direction.
9. I think I wonder if there’s a better quote in the NFL than Michael Bennett of the Seahawks. When asked how it felt to defeat his brother (Martellus, of the Bears) the defensive lineman deadpanned: “Big Brother always wins, just like the government.”
10. I think the Gladys Knight-Todd Bowles mutual appreciation society is fantastic. Kudos to the Star-Ledger’s Dom Cosentino for snagging an interview with Knight last week, in which she said she would make Bowles an “honorary Pip.” Then, Michael Kay connected the two on his ESPN radio show on Tuesday. A sampling of the heart-warmingly awkward conversation, interrupted and muffled by hearty chuckling.
Knight: It's so nice to speak with you.
Bowles: Oh my God. How are you?
Knight: I've got to apologize, I’ve got to apologize, because see I was late yesterday for the game. But after I got there, it wasn't five minutes after I got there that they scored their touchdown. They didn't lose nothing else after that.
Bowles: That's OK. Thank you so much for even coming. I really appreciate it.