The NFL regular season is back tonight. Everybody, please join me in this welcome by saying “nice to have you back, NFL regular season.”
Welcome back to … one of the NFL’s greatest all-time rivalries. In case you haven’t heard, the Bears are also celebrating their centennial this year. They got to wiggle out of wearing that new NFL 100 patch on the neck of their jersey because of it. The Morning Huddle does not recommend playing a drinking game tonight where you take a shot every time a player or coach from the pre-merger days is mentioned.
Welcome back to … the Cris Collinsworth slide-in to start the Thursday Night Football broadcast. Personally, it was always better when he wasn’t in on the joke and it was for us—the interneters—to enjoy. Now when he does it, his smile communicates something entirely different. It’s a smile that he knows that we know that he knows.
Welcome back to … Aaron Rodgers’s record versus Da Bears. The two-time NFL MVP is 16-5 against Chicago in games he’s started, tossing 45 touchdowns to 10 picks in those 21 contests.
Welcome back to … discussions of Rodgers’ coachability. Already his camaraderie with new coach Matt LaFleur has been prodded after how things ended in Green Bay with Mike McCarthy. Any sideline chat with the first-year coach will be dissected. We’ll be looking for any hint of dissatisfaction with the play call on third-and-long. Did you see how he unbuckled his chinstrap in obvious frustration? How will this marriage ever work?!
Welcome back to … the Bears’ kicking game. Matt Nagy has put an absurd focus on the one play that ended his team’s season last year. It’s almost like he’s performing an exorcism, but if he saw the great Friedkin film he’d know it doesn’t work out all that well for Dr. Merrin and Dr. Karras. Any time the Bears get to the Packers’ mid-30s and third down comes around, we’ll all be rooting for whatever must take place for Eddy Pineiro to trot out and attempt a 43-yard field goal.
And finally, a grudging first welcome to … the new pass interference rule in the regular season. Will it be Matt LaFleur or Matt Nagy—two-thirds of the Matt triumvirate in NFL head-coachingsphere, tied at the top with a strong trio of Mikes—who throws the first red flag for the play in a game that counts?
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1. The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz spoke at length with Falcons owner Arthur Blank about Julio Jones, Donald Trump, marriage and divorce and more.
2. ESPN The Magazine released its Body Issue online on Wednesday.
3. Bucs coach Bruce Arians is driven to satisfy his mentors.
4. Matt LaFleur has come a long way from bombing that Maryland WR coaching interview five years ago.
5. Apparently Kliff Kingsbury is still trying to get a read on his franchise quarterback.
Here’s hoping NBC has ditched the Green Zone after its test run last season. We see where the team snapped the ball, and we see the yellow line. We don’t need anything more than that.
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