New York Jets rookie Jamal Adams says he’s going to change the safety position
1. I think I got a kick out of Jamal Adams, the rookie safety of the Jets, telling Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, “I’m going to change the position.” I got a kick out of this oddly timed bravado because:
• Adams has played seven NFL games.
• The man who is going to change the safety position was the 63rd-rated safety in the league through six games according to Pro Football Focus numbers. Also per PFF, Adams in coverage was allowing opposing quarterbacks a 133.8 rating. Perhaps instead of “changing the position” he could “change his cover technique for the better.”
• His coach, Todd Bowles, already changed the position in Arizona (and then some with the Jets) by turning hard-hitting safeties into linebacker/safety combo-platters by playing some safeties consistently close to the line in place of inside ’backers.
Clearly Adams is a bright prospect and has the chance to become one of the best safeties in football. And he did make some positive plays Sunday, including a tip that led to an teammate’s interception. But how does one “change a position”? Ronnie Lott is the best safety I’ve seen. He didn’t “change the position.” He “played the position well.”
2. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 7:
a. A shame, of course, to see Carson Palmer go down with a broken left arm, maybe for the season, and maybe for his career. He turns 38 in December. Tell you what I'd do if I were Arizona GM Steve Keim: bring him back for one more tutoring/playing season, and draft his heir in the top 10 next April. Because it certainly looks like the Cards will have a top-10 pick after that putrid showing in London.
b. This has to be a record, part 1: After seven weeks, every team in the AFC has at least two losses. This has to be a record, part 2: Only one team entering the final game of Week 7 (the 5-1 Eagles, and that could change after the Washington-Philly Monday-nighter) in the 32-team league has zero or one loss.
c. I did not see Buffalo and Tampa Bay combining for 50 first downs and 881 total yards, I’ll tell you that.
d. Great graphic by NBC Sunday night, showing the release time of Tom Brady and Matt Ryan … an identical .33 seconds by both.
e. Most amazing defensively deficient play of the season (and stunning that it happened to the disciplined Bills): Jameis Winston floated a bomb down the left sideline in Buffalo for a touchdown to O.J. Howard—and there was not a Buffalo defenders within 18 yards of Howard.
f. Good diagnosis by Chris Spielman of Fox, ripping the Dolphins for trying to strip the ball instead of trying to tackle Matt Forte as he converted a long third-down pass into a first down.
g. Chiefs are still 12-1 in their last 13 AFC West games.
h. But giving up 32 first downs and 505 yards … I mean, I give up. Is there a best team in football right now?
i. Good for you, Chris Long, donating your entire 2017 base salary ($1 million) to education causes.
j. The desperate Bruce Arians is the best Bruce Arians. Down 13-0 in the first half against the Rams, Arians went for it on fourth-and-one from his 35, and made it.
k. Todd Gurley is a terrific and elusive receiver. Amazing that the Rams never thought of featuring him that way in his first two seasons.
l. Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star took a blowtorch to the Colts after the team got shut out for the first time in the regular season since 1993.
m. I know the way Jim Irsay thinks. And firing Chuck Pagano during the season would not surprise me.
3. I think I feel sorry for England. Poor England. First Brexit. Then ridiculously non-competitive football. Now, to the rescue … the Cleveland Browns? Three of the four London games have been played this year, with one remaining: Minnesota (5-2) versus 0-7 Cleveland on Sunday at Twickenham Stadium. The NFL sold out all four games, and the average crowd at the four games will be more than 78,000. As for the quality of play: It has stunk. Margin of victory in the three games this year thus far: 37, 20 and 33 points.
At some point, the NFL’s going to have to play a really good game in London, not just a regular-season game for regular-season’s sake. Green Bay needs to go. Philadelphia hasn’t been. Next season will be eight years since the Broncos made the trip. It’s only right that the fine people of Western Europe see some of the best teams in the league, with something on the line.
4. I think that was a touching, lovely ceremony the 49ers put on for former wide receiver Dwight Clark, who has ALS and appeared with 37 of his former teammates at halftime of, fittingly, the Dallas-San Francisco game Sunday in Santa Clara. When the team asked him what he wanted to do, seeing that so many people wanted to see him and honor him, Clark said, “I just want to see my teammates.” As Clark said Sunday: “And the 49ers heard that and flew in all these players so I could see them one more time.” With his strength in decline and struggling with his speech, Clark thanked his mates and his fans in an emotional speech that brought owner Eddie DeBartolo to tears. I have a feeling he wasn’t the only one.
5. I think I’d like to counter those who would empathize with Marshawn Lynch for running from the Raiders bench out onto the field. The reasoning goes: He was defending his cousin, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. And when Lynch made contact with an official, maybe he didn’t know it was an official, or he wasn’t trying to hurt the official—he was just trying to get him out of the way. On NFL Network, “Good Morning Football” analyst Ike Taylor, the former Steeler corner, said: “Even though he got suspended, it showed me growth. He’s trying to be the mediator.” Taylor was effectively countered by fellow panelist Mike Garafolo in this back-and-forth:
Taylor: “When you’re in the heat of the moment, you’re not thinking.”
Garafolo: “You get paid a lot of money to think.”
Taylor: “You get paid a lot of money to play football. You don’t get paid a lot of money to think.”
Now, I know Ike Taylor, but not well. I’ve always found him to be a reasonable guy. But these are two minutes of television that do not make him look good, or reasonable. One: You do not run off the bench into a skirmish for any reason. Two: You do not make contact with an official for any reason. Three: Regarding the you’re-not-thinking-in-the-heat-of-the-moment response: Really? What do coaches at every level tell you about fighting, about altercations on the field, regardless who’s right or wrong? They tell you: Walk away. Be smart. Don't take the bait. Don't get a penalty. Thinking is very much a part of football. So now here’s what we’re left with Lynch, who showed Taylor “growth”: By running onto the field and making contact with an official, he missed the second half of a game the Raiders absolutely had to win, and he was suspended for another game vital to the 3-4 Raiders—at Buffalo next week. (He has appealed the suspension, but let’s assume he’ll serve the game.) In two crucial games, Lynch’s irresponsible action removes a vital player from six of the eight quarters. That’s a heck of a price to pay for such great mediation.
6. I think I love when the media—in this case the Fort Worth Star-Telegram—digs through the archives to find something that at one point would have been casually interesting but now seems incredibly so. The newspaper discovered a reader letter to the editor from 1989, criticizing Jerry Jones, in his first game as owner of the Cowboys, for sitting with Elizabeth Taylor during the national anthem. Aside from how surprising that would be in any case, it is especially notable given how Jones says if any player does not stand at attention for the anthem, he won’t be playing for the Cowboys. Well, if an owner sits for the anthem, does it mean the owner will not own for the Cowboys?
7. I think I got this question, in a few forms, during the week after commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants all players to stand for the anthem, but was not going to force them to do so: Why won’t the NFL just make a rule for the players to stand? It’s pretty simple. So far this weekend, approximately 1,350 men have been scheduled to be on the sidelines at 14 games for the national anthem. (Washington and Philadelphia will make that 15 games and 1,440 players total tonight.) Of the 14 games, 15 uniformed players demonstrated either by sitting (10), kneeling (one), staying in the locker room during the anthem (one) or standing in the tunnel (three). That is 1.1 percent of the players in the NFL not standing for the anthem the way Goodell (and the networks and the advertisers) would want. Had Goodell issued an edict that all players must stand, and those who do not will be sanctioned either with a fine or suspension, I can tell you there would have been scores of players either sitting or kneeling or performing some sort of civil disobedience for the anthem. What would that have solved?
8. I think it’s a little early to declare Andrew Luck out for the season, or to say he shouldn’t play the rest of the year because his shoulder’s not right. That’s a decision that doesn’t have to be made now, first of all, and if Luck is healthy enough to play, say, by Thanksgiving, and the Colts are a game out of first in the AFC South, well, why would you not consider him an option? Even if Jacoby Brissett is playing well enough and winning games, who would you have rather have in relief if Brissett struggles or is hurt—Scott Tolzien or Andrew Luck?
9. I think, also, that if I’m Colts GM Chris Ballard, I am hanging up in February or March or April when another quarterback-needy GM calls and says, “Let’s talk about Jacoby Brissett.”
10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:
a. RIP, Bob Sprenger, one of the best PR people the NFL has had. Sprenger was a stalwart in the formative years of the Chiefs.
b. You tell ’em, Sam Ponder. Do not let cretins get away with personal attacks of the Howard Stern kind.
c. Story of the Week: “Bomb School Wasn’t for Lulu, But CIA Wishes Her the Best,” by Katie Rogers of the New York Times. It starts with a great first paragraph and gets better: “Let’s just get this out of the way: There are other matters of consequence going on in the world.” Lulu the black lab flunked out of bomb-detection school. Last sentence by Katie Rogers: “Officials at the CIA wished this very good dog all the best in the future.”
d. TV Story of the Week: by Steve Hartman of CBS News, on the life and times of Chris Rosati, who died last week of ALS; Rosati’s zest for life reminds me of Steve Gleason’s.
e. I so value public radio. Check out this story from New Hampshire Public Radio by a man, a heroin addict, who says, “I’m not an addict,” and two weeks later, he was dead. Such important work—helped by the video the addict himself shot.
f. Fun being on TV with Nicole Wallace of MSNBC last Wednesday.
g. Hey: I shared a spin class with Samantha Bee in New York City on Saturday morning.
h. Daniel Murphy undergoes microfracture surgery on his knee. That’s no run-of-the-mill surgery, Nats fans.
i. I’ll take the Astros over the rested Dodgers in seven. I hope it’s seven, and I hope the drama is a replay of the Astros-Yankees series.
j. I have never seen an infielder-to-catcher tag play at home as beautiful and timely as the Alex Bregman-to-Brian McCann play in the fifth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS. How McCann held on and tagged in a zillionth of a second is beyond me. There were some superior defensive plays in that series, particularly by Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve, but that tag of Greg Bird at home was the best one.
k. Great line by Bregman post-game: “I pulled out the inner Peyton Manning and threw a dime.”
l. Aaron Judge, AL playoffs: 48 at-bats, 27 strikeouts. And still what an impact he made against the ’Stros.
m. Todd Frazier is the best third-base security blanket in baseball.
n. Beernerdness: From reader Jeff Snyder, responding while I skip beer this month ... “Peter King's weekly column over the past few years has increasingly championed multiple things: those small-town, feel-good stories we all need on a Monday, an appreciation for people dedicated to and excelling at their craft who sometimes get recognized for it, and good beer. May I humbly suggest a small brewery, which typifies all these themes, that just had a big win …The BottleHouse Brewery and Meadery (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) is tiny, but its two production employees continually experiment. Example: its Spring Gruit—an ancient style that gets bitterness from local ingredients like spruce (not hops). Saison and wit drinkers should love the refreshing brew—faintly herbal and bitter, but full-bodied and copper-colored. The brew won bronze at the Great American Beer Fest this fall. Here's hoping this little guy with great beer gets some love.”
o. Jeff: Believe me, when I’m off the BDL (Beer Disabled List) after Sober October, and when I get back to Cleveland, BottleHouse will be on my list. Thanks a lot.
p. Stop the planet. I have to get off. Columbia’s football team is 6-0.
Who I Like Tonight
Philadelphia 23, Washington 20. I love this game. It could be a bombs-away affair, but I think more likely the two play-callers will lean on ball-possession to win. The Eagles, with a dominating possession time (34:23) and resurgent back, have the edge. Since being invisible in the season’s first two weeks, LaGarrette Blount has rushed for 67, 136, 74 and 67, respectively, yards in the Eagles’ four-game win streak. “I never questioned that I’d have a big role here,” said Blount, whose 5.6-yards-per-rush this season is a career-best. “We didn’t play much as a first unit in the preseason, and it’s taken a while for some of the new guys to get their legs under them. But right now, I love it. The offensive line feeds on how I run the football. They obviously know that my game is to break tackles. They know I’ll make the right reads. They’re a great line.” They’ll need to be tonight. Washington’s allowing just 88 rushing yards per game.
The Adieu Haiku
Cam Newton, Panthers.
The game’s biggest mystery.
Where is Super Cam?
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