1. I think the amount of leeway Greg Hardy is getting in Dallas has gone beyond what is typically afforded troubled stars and broached into locker room cancer territory. Reports that the defensive end missed every meeting Thursday were neither confirmed nor denied by Cowboys executive V.P. Stephen Jones, and Hardy played 60 of the Cowboys’ 70 defensive snaps in Sunday’s loss at Tampa. Whether coach Jason Garrett is giving Hardy a pass or it’s Jones pulling the strings, Garrett’s credibility suffers with every one of Hardy’s missteps.
2. I think I’d love to read this “code of ethics in football” referenced by Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey when expressing frustration with Cam Newton’s end zone celebration after the final touchdown in Tennessee’s 27-10 loss to the Panthers. The linebacker who was saltiest about the dance—and started a scuffle over it—was Avery Williamson, the same guy who performed Drake’s “Hotline Bling” dance after sacking Newton earlier in the game. So if this code involves some malarkey about quarterbacks being held to a higher standard in celebration etiquette than linebackers, it’s not worth the imaginary paper it’s written on.
3. I think J.J. Watt writes his quotes in advance and delivers them when applicable. Take this gem for instance: “Our goal was to come in here and make the Red Rifle look like a Red Ryder BB gun. I think we did that.” That's funny... a little too funny.
4. I think Joe Berger and Michael Harris deserve as much—if not more—of the credit for Minnesota’s recent success as household names Teddy Bridgewater, Adrian Peterson and Stefon Diggs. The center and right guard combo have been earthmovers for Peterson, who is running away with the 2015 rushing title. His 961 yards have come in nine games played without a traditional fullback, his preference.
5. I think I’d like to offer condolences for the lives lost in Paris. The news that terrorists targeted France’s soccer stadium was chilling for all of us who attend NFL games every week. Personally, I’ve always imagined a scenario in which an attacker manages to get a bomb past the first line of security and detonates near a ‘soft target’, say, the ticket line at the stadium gates. I can say from experience there are stadiums where that would be unlikely and others where security is so understaffed or inexperienced that the worst is possible.
6. I think the most exciting debut of Week 11 will be that of Brock Osweiler, presumed quarterback of the future in Denver, who will make his first career start. While Peyton Manning recovers from a foot injury with no announced recovery timetable, enter the awkwardly tall Osweiler, drafted in the second round in 2012 out of Arizona State. He fell somewhere between mediocre and bad in mop-up duty vs. Kansas City, completing 58% of his passes with a score and an interception. His play over the next several weeks (if that long) will likely determine how high John Elway drafts a quarterback this spring.
7. I think Matt Cassel is Exhibit A for the urgent need for an NFL minor league. Rather than draft late-round QBs and develop them, teams are finding it more practical to pay for short-term leases with tired arms, like the Cowboys have with Brandon Weeden and Cassel, who have proven over and over again they will not win NFL games. Perhaps the most frustrating viewing of Week 10 was the sight of Cassel having all the time in the world behind a top-tier offensive line and managing to pass for only 186 yards with a pick in a 10-6 loss.
8. I think Rob Ryan isn’t great at his job, but firing him won’t fix New Orleans’ defense. The loss of Junior Galette this offseason was a stunner, and despite Ryan’s best efforts to mask the deficiencies of his secondary, the cornerback play has been among the worst in the league. Delvin Breaux may turn into a fine player, but the Patriots knew what they were doing (as always) when they let Brandon Browner walk.
9. I think it was big of Bill O’Brien to admit to the team he’d made a mistake in replacing Brian Hoyer with Ryan Mallett in Week 1, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. Mallett infamously went on to miss the team plane to Miami and was subsequently released. O’Brien was publicly harangued for switching to Mallett in the first place after telling the pair there would be no quick hook in a meeting shown on Hard Knocks. (And that’s why head coaches not named Rex Ryan don’t love being on Hard Knocks).
10. I think Tom Brady is being modest when he says Julian Edelman is too good to “just put someone else in.” Brady is the presumptive MVP precisely because he has made a living out of running the NFL’s most consistent offense with an inconsistent depth chart.
One more thing…
I think Dez Bryant is willing to fight (the Cowboys’ chosen buzzword during a trying season), but only when it suits him. He’ll kick and scream for his own reputation when he reads the word “petulant” written to describe him. And he’ll throw verbal jabs at the people paid to save him from his own mouth. But when it’s time to fight for the Dallas Cowboys, with the ball and the game up for grabs, he’s all punched out.