NFL for Breakfast: Introducing The MMQB's Morning Huddle

Tuesday September 5th, 2017

There's simply too much going on in the NFL. You know it. I know it. This past weekend, general managers around the league certainly knew it. Which is why The MMQB is launching The Morning Huddle.

Welcome! Every weekday, we’ll point you to stories you might have missed and a roundup of the latest NFL news, topped with commentary on the day's most noteworthy topic. You know how on Sundays, just after a game-changing play, you wait for the moment to be shown again—maybe in slow-motion or from a different angle—so you can figure out why Marshawn Lynch lost the football, or how DeSean Jackson got so open, or what in the heck that line judge was thinking? Well, consider this your “instant replay” for the other six days of the week.

So let's review what transpired over the holiday weekend.

As Peter King pointed out in yesterday’s Monday Morning Quarterback, "In the previous five pre-cutdown periods, there was an average of 10.2 trades per year across the NFL. This year, there were 25." (On Twitter, I worked through possible reasons for the increase). Thanks to the elimination of the 75-player cutdown, this weekend also saw an abnormally busy waiver wire. In Cleveland, where the Browns had first pick of cut players due to their last-place finish in 2016, the front office operated "like they were stacking a draft board." They came away with five players, more than the Patriots or Bears acquired in the actual NFL draft. Second in the waiver order, the 49ers claimed only one player from the bunch. But that didn't mean a relaxed weekend for new GM John Lynch, who, when asked about his most difficult decision this week, said, "They all kept me up at night."

NFL
Monday Morning QB: Roster Cuts, Surprising Trades and a Super Bowl 52 Prediction

And then there were the players on the bubble. Consider Bernard Reedy, who spent his offseason studying the playbook during breaks at his $11-per-hour job as a wheelchair transporter. He made Tampa Bay's final 53. Meanwhile, the Giants got rid "of their most heartwarming story"—only to add Travis Rudolph to the practice squad a day later.

The takeaway: With an onslaught of trades, a deluge of other roster moves, and the obvious stakes for players’ livelihoods, Cutdown Weekend is more of an NFL event than many of the other dates that receive actual league promotion—and I think we'll see more TV coverage built around it next year. At the very least, the past few days have backed up this newsletter's central conceit: In the NFL, drama doesn't just play out on Sundays.

Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.

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HOT READS

NOW ON THE MMQB: Robert Klemko speaks with the new highest-paid receiver in football ... Albert Breer recaps cutdown day ... Andy Benoit tells you what you need to know about the Green Bay Packers ... and more.

COMING LATER TODAY: The staff gives playoff and award predictions ... Tim Rohan details the education of Marcus Mariota ... Jenny Vrentas looks at Adrian Peterson and the history of aged runners ... Klemko details J.J. Watt's work in the wake of Hurricane Harvey ... and, yes, more.

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PRESS COVERAGE

Reuben Frank did his best to answer the eternal question: Who is Carson Wentz?
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

1. Carson Wentz the player is still largely unknown. Is he bound for top 10 QB status or is he the next Blake Bortles? And what do we know about Wentz the person? "He's a good quarterback. He loves to hunt and fish. He's very religious," Reuben Frank writes. "Honestly, that's about it." My favorite part of the whole story is this quote from Wentz: "There’s times where I’ll be talking to my mom and she’ll be asking me football questions and I’ll be like, ‘Mom, I’m going to hang up.’ ”

If you want more on Wentz at work, he talked to Tim McManus about navigating the situation with Bradford a year ago. More interested in off-field stuff? Philly.com just published The Gospel according to Carson Wentz.

2. LeSean McCoy still has faith in the Bills, or at least that's what he told Kimberley A. Martin. He also at one point says, "Who the hell is Kiko Alonso?" The Buffalo News has an in-depth read on how Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane rose through the NFL ranks, too.

3. If you like lists and rankings, here are three:

Bleacher Report's Top 100 Players of the 2017 Season

The 2017 Preseason NFL All-Pro Team according to ESPN.com's Field Yates

—Robert Mays ranks the league’s eight worst teams and provides their best and worst scenarios for The Ringer.

NFL
How The MMQB 400 Was Made

4. Do Your Job Part 2, a documentary on the 2016 Patriots, premiered Sunday. If you missed it, Doug Kyed has 11 takeaways.

Andrew Luck will start the season on the sideline, and he might not be back at full strength until November.
Scott Boehm/AP

5. With Scott Tolzien under center, Zak Keefer says the Colts’ messy QB situation is their own doing. Dr. David Chao has more on Andrew Luck's health status. The former Chargers head team physician writes, "It should be cautioned that recovery is not like a light switch but more like a gradual sunrise. Even when Luck returns to play, he is likely to need time before he is back to full form. At this point, that could easily be mid-season at the earliest."

6. Adrian Peterson saying he wanted to "stick it" to the Vikings made news, but the entire Star Tribune story is worth reading, especially Deuce McAllister's analysis of the new Saint: "Yeah, he’s 100 percent.”

7. Now, a break from NFL goings on for a trip to Voznesenka, Alaska, where The New York Times went for an awesome feature on a high school football team in an isolated village.

8. Cutdowns may be behind us, but personnel drama is far from settled. In Oakland, a contract dispute is brewing between the Raiders and the franchise's longest tenured player.

9. Here are a few more personnel stories with legs:

—As Duane Brown continues to hold out in Houston, to the tune of $40,000 in fines, the Chronicle's Aaron Wilson caught up with the left tackle.

—Washington teammate Chris Thompson defended Su'a Cravens as the safety considers stepping away from football. On Snapchat, Cravens said, "I don't feel like I need to explain myself . . . I think I need to follow what makes me happy." 

—And in Tampa, new Buc T.J. Ward is still not over the way Denver cut him. "I think they just handled it completely unprofessional​," he said.

NFL
T.J. Ward Brings Needed Physicality to Buccaneers' Defensive Backfield

10. Lastly, an NPR addition to the list: Weekend Edition Sunday spoke with Alison Owens about being married to an NFL player after an NYT feature on a Facebook group for NFL wives ran last month.

Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.

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The Kicker

You may have heard about Philip Rivers’s long commute now that the Chargers are based in L.A. But you won't have so much sympathy after you see his $200,000 QB-room-on-wheels.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Email me directly or let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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