Here’s a batch of lukewarm takes from Sunday’s NFL Dance Card…
1. The only thing that can stop Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s corrupt player-discipline system. Putting Roger Goodell in charge of player morality is like placing Vladdy Putin in charge of U.S. elections. Not that such a thing happened, or anything …
Elliott looked great Sunday night in making the New York Giants blue. Hope he can run over Goodell in court … not literally … I’m just talking about a win in the legal proceedings. It’s either that or a six-game suspension.
2. I’m an Arizona Cardinals fan, but it’s tough to watch quarterback Carson Palmer. I like him a lot. But after a three-interception dud in the season-opening loss at Detroit, I had flashbacks of my Polish grandmother hollering at my Polish grandfather, telling him to put the cigar out and go to bed before he hurt himself and burned down the house.
3. This wasn’t a popular opinion around The STL when I expressed it the first time, but I really did like the Rams’ hiring of Sean McVay as head coach. They needed a creative offensive mind. A coach with an impressive passing-game DNA. Granted, McVay is 17 years old (actually 31) but did you see Jared Goff’s first game after the Boy Coach worked with him all summer? Goff was fabulous. He may still turn out to be a bust … but kidding aside McVay appears to be a quarterback whisperer.
In case you missed it, the Rams stomped the Colts 46-9 … in front of about 469 fans at the LA Coliseum. We’ll see how Kirk Cousins does in Washington this season without McVay orchestrating the Redskins offense.
4. The Seahawks evidently left their offensive line in Seattle. Or maybe that was the problem; Seattle SHOULD have kept that sorry O-line at home. Green Bay’s defense was so thorough in its dominance of the visiting team, I think I saw the ghost of Ray Nitschke jump in to make six tackles for losses.
5. There was lots of bad, bad, bad quarterbacking on display Sunday. None worse than Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, who turned the ball over five times in a 20-0 home loss to Baltimore. Usually Dalton avoids stinking up the Cincinnati riverfront until the postseason commences, but I guess he wanted to get an early start this season.
5a. Given all of the turrible quarterback play Sunday, it’s a shame that all the QB-needy outfits don’t have a good option available … like, say, Colin Kaepernick … Oh, wait!
6. My goodness, the Indianapolis Colts left a huge pile of mess on the Coliseum field Sunday. The NY Jets , San Francisco 49ers and maybe the Cleveland Browns will have some competition for the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
7. Derek Carr did it again, taking his swashbuckling self on the road and playing his best with the game on the line, leading Oakland to a 10-point win at Tennessee. It came down to the 4th quarter. Carr led two scoring drives as the Raiders outscored the home team 10-3. Carr is 7-1 on the road the last two seasons, having thrown 14 touchdown passes with only two interceptions.
And a note on the fourth-quarter heroics: Since the start of last season only Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has a better fourth-quarter passer rating than Carr’s 111.5
7a. Of course, the Raiders got a boost from Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey, who made the dunderhead strategy move of the day by opting to open the game with a surprise onside kick … that did not surprise the Raiders … a stupid onside kick that gave the Raiders a short field and a fast-start touchdown. Mularkey is 27-47 as an NFL head coach … and still has a gig … his idol must be Jeff Fisher.
8. Houston was curb-stomped by 29-7 by visiting Jacksonville, which invaded for 10 sacks. Texans coach Bill O’Brien went to the bullpen early, pulling Tom Savage for rookie Deshaun Watson. I don’t understand coaches … why didn’t O’Brien just install Watson as his No. 1 quarterback to start the season? Who the hell is Tom Savage, anyway. Here’s a stat snack: Savage has attempted 105 passes in regular-season NFL games, and he doesn’t have a SINGLE touchdown pass.
8a. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette (LSU) was impressive for the Jaguars, rushing for an even 100 yards on the day against the Texans’ physical front. And free-agent acquisition Calais Campbell set a franchise record with 3.5 sacks — most by a Jax defender in a single game.
8b. Blake Bortles is still Jacksonville’s quarterback, so … coach Doug Marrone did the smart thing and took his own quarterback out of the game. No, Bortles wasn’t benched. He played. He just wasn’t allowed to do much. Got to appreciate a head coach who understands that the way to win is to stop the quarterback … but usually we are talking about the quarterback on the OTHER team.
9. Is there a ray of hope in Cleveland? Well, maybe a glimmer … But the Browns did a few things right in a narrow 21-18 loss to the bad-ass Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns defense, playing without injured No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, yielded only 32 yards rushing (10 carries) to Le’Veon Bell, and 15 of those yards came on one rush. And rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had a nice debut, completing 20 of 30 for 222 yards, with one TD pass and one rushing touchdown.
9a. By the way … and sorry if you know about this note already … but with Sunday’s victory, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger now has more wins in Cleveland than any Browns quarterback since the Browns returned to the league in 1999. Roethlisberger is 22-2 against the Browns overall during his career; the Big Man is 11-2 in games at Cleveland. Derek Anderson (2005-2009) had 10 home wins for the Browns … that’s it … 10 … Crazy. It’s still amazing that the Browns skipped over Roethlisberger, an Ohio native, in the 2004 draft.
10. The fun player of the day was Chicago Bears’ rookie running back Tarik Cohen, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina A&T. Cohen — only 5 foot 6 and 179 pounds, had 113 yards from scrimmage … five rushes for 66 cards, and eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. The Bears lost to Atlanta 23-17, but Cohen was a nifty subcompact model of KC Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt.
Thanks for reading …