NFL notes on Tyrod Taylor, Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Gordon, Joe Flacco and more...
1. Bills coach Sean McDermott handled the reinstatement of Tyrod Taylor as starting quarterback in a very simple way with his guys. He told them he made a decision (to go to Nathan Peterman) that didn’t work, and that Taylor would be back, and that was that. Seems to have worked, too, given that Buffalo won at Arrowhead.
2. I have no idea whether or not Josh Gordon can stay on the straight-and-narrow. What I do know is his talent is off the charts, and the 2016 preseason is such a great example of that. Coming off the street cold, not having gotten real game action in for nearly two years, Gordon was dominant, collecting a total of five catches for 116 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown, in losses to the Bucs and Bears. Can’t wait to see what he looks like against the Chiefs.
3. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Wednesday he’ll keep going week-to-week with the quarterbacks. That makes sense. Why? Because the players have genuinely learned to handle it. It’s something I asked team captain Kyle Rudolph about a couple weeks back: “We have our formula around here, we have the way that we do things and the way we win games. [Coach Zimmer] just doesn’t talk about it. No matter who goes out there, he expects us to win, and he expects us to play that brand of football that we’ve established here.”
4. The union is going to ramp up its efforts to keep tabs on playing-field conditions in the coming weeks. They’re looking into the Redskins’ beat up natural surface at FedEx Field, as well as the turf at MetLife Stadium that Panthers coach Ron Rivera talked about last Sunday. A similar probe earlier in the year led to the Patriots swapping out the turf at Gillette.
5. Speaking of that, the union does have figures now that show that there remains a significant difference in number of injuries suffered on grass vs. turf fields.
6. Joe Flacco and the offense have their issues, but the Ravens believe the defense they’re putting out there now is capable of living up to the ridiculous standard set by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. In particular, the corner troika of Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey has been outstanding.
7. The Niners line has gotten healthier, Jimmy Garoppolo has almost a month under his belt in the system, and San Francisco isn’t playing Seattle this week, all of which play into the decision made to go with the fourth-year ex-Patriot. I do believe the Niners will do some subtle things to try and protect Garoppolo, and thus their investment.
8. Gut-check time for the Saints, in welcoming the 8-3 Panthers to the Superdome. New Orleans bullied its way to eight straight wins in such an un-Saintsian way, leaning on opponents with their running game and defense. Do they stick to the script now, and let Drew Brees play game manager against a rugged Carolina front?
9. The second adjustment for the Chiefs offense needs to come now. Coaches have caught up to the spread elements that Kansas City, behind Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt, put on tape in September and October.
10. The Redskins and Cowboys are both 5-6 going into Thursday night, and perception of the two couldn’t be more divergent. The Skins are making it work with less, and Dallas is collapsing under the weight of one big loss (Ezekiel Elliott). Or so it goes.