- Nothing is that simple when money, ego and control issues are all at stake, but reconsidering Thursday games seems like an easy decision for the NFL.
1. Thursday Night Football was already under fire by players, coaches and fans dialed in enough to notice the marked dropoff in on-field product. Losing Richard Sherman for the season in a low-scoring game between the Carson Palmer and David Johnson-less Cardinals and Earl Thomas-less Seahawks will only add fuel to the sound argument that mid-week games simply should not exist.
Sherman had an Achilles injury coming into Thursday’s divisional tilt and, with 5:30 to go in the third quarter, broke on a pass to John Brown. He immediately crumpled to the ground, rolled over and buried his head in the grass. It’s almost as if Sherman was waiting for it to happen. In true Legion of Boom fashion, he limped off the field under his own power (shoving a team medical official out of his way in the process) but television cameras soon caught him mouthing to teammates that the muscle was torn.
Add Sherman to a list of star players gone from the NFL with more than half the season remaining: Eric Berry, Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, Odell Beckham, Joe Thomas, J.J. Watt, Julian Edelman, Johnson and Jason Peters. We reported on the notable spike in injured reserve numbers last week, and while bad luck and an increase in designated for return usage certainly has something to do with it, four days rest between games doesn’t help. Need more evidence? Sherman was one of seven Seahawks players injured in Phoenix Thursday night (Kam Chancellor was in the medical tent with 54 seconds to go in the fourth quarter).
Bills guard Richie Incognito reignited the debate about Thursday Night Football back on Nov. 3 following a hapless loss to the Jets at MetLife Stadium. His central thesis–that it’s universally despised inside the league and that players view it as a money grab by the NFL–is buoyed by just about every player in the NFL tenured enough to have an opinion on the matter.
With the NFL facing an oversaturation problem and an injury problem, reconsidering the Thursday Night package seems to be an easy solution for all parties involved–a future olive branch from the league office to the Players Association. But as we’ve seen in recent years, nothing is that simple when money, ego and control issues collide at high speeds.
2. Thursday could have been way worse, too. A strange series of events in the third quarter unfolded when Russell Wilson took a shot to the head from Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was running free on a blitz from the left side with a little more than eight minutes remaining. Wilson picked himself up, winced and adjusted his jaw. He was then urged by officials to be evaluated for a concussion on the sideline. Here’s where it gets weird: Wilson jogs to the sideline, takes a sip of water, removes his helmet and walks into the mobile medical tent. Once the tent is closed over Wilson’s head, he seems to mouth the words “I’m fine,” then stands up and walks back onto the field. After that non-inspection, Wilson took a series of vicious hits, especially two notable plays where he was spilled onto a sideline following a run or scramble.
3. One on-field takeaway: Wilson and Doug Baldwin’s chemistry is unlike anything I’ve seen. On second-and-21 from the Seattle 44, Wilson whirled around in the backfield, evading Cardinals defenders for what seemed like minutes (Next Gen Stats tracked him at 31 total yards on the scramble alone). Baldwin was wise enough to vacate his blocking duties and get to the nearest target point for Wilson to loft an emergency pass. Baldwin hauled in the ball in front of a falling cornerback and rumbled 54 yards to set up the knockout score. On an ugly night, it was one moment worth sticking around for.