Reacting and overreacting to everything that happened in the Week 9 Sunday afternoon games...
Things That Made Me Giddy
Brian Flores Is on the Board!: Probably a full calendar year sooner than anyone would have expected. So, like, Dolphins win. Yay?
Not Unlike Elvis Costello, Harrison Butker’s Aim Is True: Trailing by three with 2:30 to go, he hit from 54 to tie it; and as time expired he hit from 44 to win it. On a day of kicker tragedies, Butker was double clutch.
Bosa-Ingram Duo Dynamic Again: The bad days for Green Bay’s offensive line have been few and far between over the years, but Sunday was one of them. Joey Bosa and—looking 100% healthy for the first time in a while—Melvin Ingram owned this game in what became a comfortable win for the Chargers.
Give Derek Carr Comeback Player of the Year: For a guy who looked shot by the end of last season, he’s looked like a new man in 2019. He's showing full command of an offense short on weapons, and he's sprinkling in the kind of second reaction plays he never showed before. In the win over Detroit, he went 20-for-31 for 289 and two touchdowns.
Wilson-to-Lockett Forever: Lockett has somehow become an even better version of Doug Baldwin out of the slot, along with being a big-time deep threat. The chemistry that he and Wilson have is reaching Roethlisberger/Antonio Brown levels (but without the, y’know, jerkiness).
Matt Moore Keeps the Trains Running on Time: Sure, the 91-yard Damien Williams touchdown run helped matters, but Moore hung in the pocket for a couple of heroic throws and sprinkled a couple Tyreek Hill deep shots among otherwise efficient play. Let the “Mahomes is overrated” takes commence! (Not because they’re accurate, but because seeing them gives me an undeserved sense of superiority knowing there are really dumb people out there.)
O.K., Tyreek Hill: We get it, you’re fast. (But also, holy crap, he is fast.)
I Feel Like I Could Score Six TDs in a Season as Russell Wilson’s Tight End: First Will Dissly, now Jacob Hollister scoring two TDs less than a month after joining the active roster.
Steelers Will Be Find Burning That 1 on Minkah Fitzpatrick: Especially as it looks increasingly like it will be a mid-first rounder. But he’s been a difference maker on the back end of that defense (and exactly the kind of player the Dolphins should be wary of alienating with their dumb, stupid, senseless, morally bankrupt roster-building strategy).
Chris Carson After Contact:
Courtland Sutton Is Really Good: He’s got a Kenny Golladay West vibe to him.
The Kyle Allen Formula: An excellent defense, a mistake-prone opponent, and Christian McCaffrey being ridiculous. The Panthers can keep winning games if that holds up. If it doesn't . . .
Jordan Howard REVENGE RUN!: Nineteen carries for 82 yards and this touchdown against his former team (his former team that traded him for a sixth-rounder while they traded up in the third last spring to select the plodding David Montgomery).
Jon Gruden’s Guys Best Matt Patricia’s D: It looked awfully easy at times for the Raiders, in part because of their rejuvenated quarterback and workhorse rookie runner, but also because Gruden outschemed his counterpart.
This Daryl Worley INT: Both the one-handed catch, and the fact that he out-battled Kenny Golladay to create the chance.
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I Was Wrong, Contract the Jets: I still think it’s a little harsh if Adam Gase is one-and-done considering the miracles he worked with the Dolphins the last three years, not to mention the horrific state of the Jets at the reactionary positions (offensive line, cornerback). But the quarterback has been atrocious—uniquely incompetent—and at the very least the defensive coordinator has to go. This team is much, much worse than anyone imagined they could be.
Gregg Williams Has to Go, Right?: One week after getting lit up by Gardner Minshew, his defense just made the Ryan Fitzpatrick-Preston Williams-DeVante Parker Big Three look like Montana-Alworth-Batman.
Bizarro Vinatieri Rears His Ugly Head: Whoa, that shanked potential game-winner Pittsburgh was something else. The hold was bad, but he completely chunked that swing. It would have been a phenomenal win for Indy considering the Brissett injury and the ugly turnovers; instead, Vinatieri misses the 43-yard would-be-game-winner, plays the goat for the second time this season, then says “hello” to everyone as he exits the stadium.
Boy, I Wish Bruce Arians Had Gone for Two: After the Bucs pulled to within one in the final minute in Seattle. Their defensive backfield looked completely gassed by the fourth quarter and had no chance of stopping the Seahawks in the event Seattle won the overtime toss (which, of course, they did).
The Brissett Injury Is a Tragedy: Based on how great he’s been this season. And then to watch the Colts let one slip away in Pittsburgh, due to a combination of sloppy turnovers and missed kicks, was insult on top of it.
Jameis Winston’s Ball Security: Note that this ball was not stripped. How do you do this in the fourth quarter of a tie game?
Chris Carson’s Ball Security: Two more fumbles on Sunday—giving him five on the season—including a lost one in the fourth quarter that could have been very costly.
Not Now, Dwayne Haskins: There weren’t any specifically embarrassing moments in Buffalo, but Washington went 2-for-11 on third downs and, if not for some Adrian Peterson heroics, would have had trouble putting up any points. The rookie remains nowhere near ready.
The Vikings Offense Disappears: Leading by three midway through the fourth quarter, they go three-and-out on back-to-back possessions and allow the game-tying then game-winning field goals. Kirk Cousins was up-and-down all day otherwise, but this was a disappointing way to close out a winnable road game.
Minshew Mildness: A week ago, Jets DC Gregg Williams’s “parade of bad ideas” scheme might have resulted in some false hope for Minshew. The Texans played it overly conservative in London (on account of no pass rush and a bad back end). Minshew often had all day and didn’t do much in the way of testing downfield windows. Whether it’s Minshew or Nick Foles out of the bye, they both look like fringe starters.
There Was Some Controversy With Beckham’s and Landry’s Shoes?: I’m unclear on what it was, but they weren’t allowed to wear them. Whatever. This stuff is not only exhausting, it’s boring.
Browns D Can’t Get Out of Its Own Way: The offense was its typical underwhelming self in Denver, but in this one it was the defense that failed, against a team being led by a No. 3 quarterback, no less. It was hopelessly sloppy tackling on Noah Fant’s 75-yard catch-and-run TD. The game was sealed on Phillip Lindsay converting a second-and-9 out of a Wildcat look.
Packers Suddenly Can’t Block Anyone: It was a desperate struggled in L.A. against the Chargers pass rush. The front five was not competitive, and neither was the game.
Jets Defensive Backs Are an Affront to Humanity: For all Mike Maccagnan’s roster-building crimes, the fact that he came into 2019 with free-agent bust Trumaine Johnson as the only starting-caliber corner on the roster ranks somewhere in the middle.
Steelers-Colts Might Have Been the Most Poorly Officiated Game of 2019: Which, as you know, is saying something. The phantom penalties were flying in both directions, though I particularly enjoyed Darius Leonard flagged for pushing an in-bounds JuJu Smith-Schuster out of bounds, and Marvell Tell’s 24-yard pass interference penalty for looking on as Diontae Johnson dropped a pass. But a human being who is compensated in exchange for providing services as a football official actually called this (and it was not a fair catch) a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty:
More Proof NFL Officials Have No Idea Where on the Body the Head is Located: This is a 15-yard penalty on Calais Campbell for “initiating contact with the head.” Arm, head, whatever, pretty much the same thing. Just as long as there are more flags.
Josh Lambo Protecting That Streak: The snap was high and the timing was thrown off—with that operation, it’s probably going to be a miss from 48. But at least try to kick it. There was a 0% chance of anything good happening for the Jaguars otherwise. The Texans took over at the 50 instead of the 38, as they would have on a miss, and Houston kicked a 42-yard field goal on the ensuing drive. But, hey, the important thing is that Josh Lambo has made 24 consecutive field goal attempts.
Brandon’s Broncos Over Baker’s Browns: That can’t happen if you’re the Cleveland Browns.
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Moments We’ll Tell Our Grandkids About
Sam Darnold Forgets He’s Playing in an Organized Football Game: I’ve never seen this before.
Sam Darnold Goes as Ryan Fitzpatrick for Halloween: In three weeks, Darnold has assembled an unrivaled lowlight reel. He’s going to get a producer credit on the next Football Follies VHS.
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What We’ll Be Talking About This Week
Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson Separate Themselves in MVP Race: As for Watson, they have built a perfect offense for him, mixing the misdirection of the read-option game with his outstanding play from the pocket and otherworldly play out of structure. This is what it looks like when you get the right marriage between supremely talented quarterback and system. Wilson, once again, just wore down an opposing defense against Tampa.
Matthew Stafford Will Never Get a Break: He goes on the road and throws for 406, but comes up a yard short on a day when his defense can’t get off the field. He’s been one of the three best players in football this season (along with Watson and Wilson), and he’s been rewarded with a 3-4-1 record.
Last Year, I Dubbed Trubisky “Bortles North”: Now I realize it was an outright insult to Bortles. The only passes Trubisky is completing are through enormously wide-open windows, the kind of opportunities that only present themselves once or twice every game. Trubisky has regressed, but understand: He was awful last year too, he just made a few more plays with his legs, played a last-place schedule, and had a defense that was standing on its head (and meanwhile, you were all too distracted by the kicker stuff). Matt Nagy must turn the offense over to Chase Daniel.
The Steelers Are Living Well: Whew! The Colts, without T.Y. Hilton, lose Jacoby Brissett early in the second quarter, give it away three times—including two lost fumbles and a 96-yard pick six—and an Adam Vinatieri shank keeps them holding on. It seems like Pittsburgh's offense is scotch-taped together. They're 4-4, but it doesn't feel like a healthy 4-4.
Chargers Aren’t Dead Yet?: They probably are—they’re not very good and they ran into a Packers offense that couldn’t handle Bosa/Ingram and a Packers defense that relies more on manufacturing pass rush than pure talent up front (a good matchup for Philip Rivers). Still, nice win, so good on them.
These Morning Games Are Stupid: Not necessarily the London games, but the morning starts, which screw with players' body clocks and consistently create supremely crappy football.
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