Ten Things I Think I Think: On Maurice Harris’ Catch of the Year; Vontaze Burfict’s Ejection
1. I think these are my quick thoughts on Week 10:
a. Catch of the year? Maurice Harris’ incredible one-elbow grab diving to the ground, holding on as he crashed to the ground, just past the right pylon, from Kirk Cousins … I have not seen a catch as good this year. Congrats to the former undrafted free agent from Cal.
b. Matthew Stafford’s touch, particularly on his deep throws, is so beautiful to see right now.
c. Interesting thing about the John Lynch-Kyle Shanahan marriage: Through the 0-9 start, I never heard one thing, not even a whisper, that one was remotely unhappy with the other. This is a solid group of coaches and front-office people (personnel veep Adam Peters is really good). The win over the Giants will be the first of many.
d. Eagles had the best bye week of any team this year. Every NFC East team lost, and now the Eagles, by virtue of sitting on their couches all day Sunday, gained a game over occasionally dangerous Dallas and Washington.
e. There are not many more physically punishing rivalry games in the NFL than Seattle-Arizona.
f. What a well-deserved honor, London Fletcher getting his jersey retired by John Carroll University. Such a good player and man.
g. Case Keenum is making it very hard for the Vikings to play Teddy Bridgewater. I know Keenum’s limitations, but watch him play in Washington, particularly early. The guy’s good. One of the throws of the day was his soft pop fly to Adam Thielen, good for 38 yards down the left sideline, in the only spot that would have been complete. Lovely. Keenum needs to work on his fade throws, though.
h. Adam Thielen on Washington linebacker Zach Brown. Gain of 37. Unfair fight right there.
i. Stefon Diggs scored his second touchdown Sunday, then leaped up and hugged the goal-post stanchion. Can’t use the goal post as a prop. Good Lord: Why?
j. You’re a good man, Drew Bledsoe. The former Patriots QB was back in Boston over the weekend to play a Veterans Day football game against a group of Wounded Warriors.
k. The speed of that Steeler front is so hard to contend.
l. Attaway Jay Glazer and Nate Boyer. This project of theirs to help returning vets is great, and not just on Veterans Day weekend.
m. Hey, Marqise Lee: What a dumb taunting foul you caused late in Jacksonville. That might have cost your team a win.
n. Hey Tre Boston: What a dumb decision, to not run back an interception in the fourth quarter for the Chargers.
o. Mike Pereira’s right: Atlanta safety Brian Pool got away with a hit on defenseless Dez Bryant early against Dallas—a foul that the officials just have to be able to see.
p. Wow, Xavier Woods. The rookie Dallas defensive back with the superb diving interception, leading to the first points of the game in Atlanta.
2. I think Vontaze Burfict has lost the benefit of the doubt with me, after yet another incident in yet another game. In the span of three plays, he got called for unnecessary roughness on a hit on Demarco Murray, then bumped an official to earn a disqualification from the game, and then, on the way off the field, he got into an argument with some emboldened female fans in the front row in Nashville. On top of being a hothead, Burfict’s got rabbit ears. Great.
3. I think this is why you simply should never, ever, ever bet on football: The Saints lost their first two games, both by double digits. They have won their last seven by 18.4 points. This team is precisely like the Rams—no fluke.
4. I think I ask this about the Los Angeles Chargers: Can any team lose games in a more agonizing fashion? Five of the six losses have been one-possession jobs, including losses by 3, 2, 2, and 3. The Chargers do some dumb things, but not enough dumb things to be as star-crossed as they are.
5. I think I bet Broncos VP John Elway goes quarterback-shopping again. It’s not just that the woeful Brock Osweiler is the quarterback for one of America’s great sports franchises. It’s the utter hopelessness of their quest over the past three weeks. The Broncos have a five-game losing streak, but, really, it’s the last 15 days that are particularly embarrassing. They’ve lost three games by 63 points. They’ve given up 40.3 points per game, which is the real stunner. On offense, Elway has to be mulling what to do to solidify his quarterback position for 2018. He won’t go into another season wishing and hoping at quarterback. Whoever’s the GM of the Giants will get a call about Eli Manning—and should listen.
6. I think it’s cool to note that, between games in mile-high Denver on Sunday night and 1.4-mile-high Mexico City versus the Raiders next Sunday, the New England Patriots will work out this week in a city about halfway between the two in altitude: Colorado Springs, elevation: 6,035 feet. (Hat tip to Mike Reiss of ESPN for this note.)
7. I think I have three thoughts about the Jim Irsay-Andrew Luck situation:
a. Irsay’s assertion that Luck is somehow overly protective of his shoulder and not wanting to play unless he feels totally perfect, I think, is foolish. Luck played 21 games after initially injuring his throwing shoulder in September 2015.
b. I bet Colts GM Chris Ballard has moved aggressively to tamp any hard feelings that Luck might have toward his owner. In fact, I would be shocked if Ballard hasn’t done something to ameliorate the situation.
c. I do not think there’s much of a chance Luck gets dealt in the offseason, no matter how well Jacoby Brissett plays. And I love Brissett.
8. I think the Seahawks shouldn’t be alone in getting the once-over from the league office about Russell Wilson’s 3.5-second mid-game sideline exam for head trauma Thursday night. As much or more, I blame the neutral Unaffiliated Neurological Consultant on the Seattle sideline. To refresh: On every sideline during NFL games is a local head-trauma specialist. He or she has the authority to mandate an exam of the player, or take the player to the locker room for a more thorough exam. When a player is sent to the sideline to be checked out, that neurological consultant and a team doctor must examine the player before he returns. Wilson was sent to the sidelines by referee Walt Anderson on the field, and darted around for a few seconds, never getting examined for longer than a couple of moments, and then running back on the field after missing one snap. At the end of that series, Wilson was examined. But that’s not the proper protocol—he should have been examined more thoroughly when he first game out. That’s one of the reasons why the NFL put those medical professionals on the sidelines in the first place—to take over a situation like that and not have a coach or the quarterback himself deciding what to do.
9. I think I’m really looking forward to Greg Olsen as the third man in the FOX booth next Sunday, Rams at Vikes. I think Olsen’s one of those players who has a future in this business, and I think it’ll be really interesting to hear him dish on Sean McVay’s offense. Good idea by FOX.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Story of the Week: Politico.com writer Michael Kruse went to Johnstown, Pa., a rock-solid Trump town a year ago during the election, a place Trump went and made a slew of promises, and this month found still a rock-solid Trump town. It’s an excellent, thorough story. And a disturbing one.
b. I am advising this very strongly: Read that story all the way through. Read it to the last three sentences. Important.
c. Radio Story of the Week: by Christopher Joyce of NPR, about how massive development contributed mightily to the flooding in Houston. It’s just a 5-minute, 20-second listen, and quite educational.
d. Column of the Week: Olympic swimmer Diana Nyad’s piece in the New York Times, about being sexually abused by a trusted coach at age 14, and again thereafter, and how at age 68 it still haunts her, and why women need to come forward to tell the stories of what happened to them.
e. Nyad: “My particular case mirrors countless others. I was 14. A naïve 14, in 1964. I don’t think I could have given you a definition of intercourse.”
f. Sports Story of the Week: Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated on the physically and mentally improved Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers. As you know, I’m not much of a hoops devotee, but wow, the detail and the great writing in this piece is something we in the business should all strive. I have so much admiration for Jenkins the writer and Jenkins the reporter.
g. Holy cow: I got to see 10 of 12 shifts of Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers the other night in the Oilers-Devils game. What a talent. So big and so fast and so smooth. What a bummer the Oilers don’t make it back to greater New York over the next few months. That would be appointment attending for me.
h. Coffeenerdness: So many good coffee shops in New York. I found another one the other day—Bluestone Lane at Astor Place. Wasn’t jonesing for anything in particular when I walked in and asked for the flat white. Superb. A little loud in there, but a good environment to sip and talk and people-watch.
i. Beernerdness: This is the second time I’ve had Revolver Brewing (Granbury, Texas) Blood and Honey American Pale Wheat Ale, and I’ll be back for more. I found myself at DFW Airport on Saturday night, and luckily one of the bars had this marvelous concoction, with a slight tinge of honey and spice. A great and still fairly light autumn brew.
j. Concerts are for listening, Josh Beckett, not stage-diving.
Who I Like Tonight
Carolina 20, Miami 12. Fairly amazing that Carolina has started 6-3, and almost more amazing that the Panthers have won two of their last three. This three-game stretch has seen Cam Newton throw one touchdown pass in 12 quarters, the Panthers score 40 points, and the speedy duo of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, drafted 1-2 last spring to re-make the Panthers, combine for 171 total yards and zero touchdowns. Thank God for a pass rush, and for a run defense, and for how well defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has spotted 37-year-old Julius Peppers (who entered the weekend eighth in the NFL with 7.5 sacks) in the pass-rush. If the Carolina offense can be even a B-minus group, this is a dangerous team.
The Adieu Haiku
Jerry v Roger.
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. But
no one’s talking ’ball.
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