Black Quarterback: Back-to-Work Hangover Episode
by Brandon Simmons
Welcome to Black Quarterback, BOSS Sports’ weekly review of the NFL. This is the 4th straight year of doing this column and I will admit I’ve been feeling a little sluggish getting back into the groove of things. But that seems to be a theme form this past weekend.
It says something when Alex Smith was the best quarterback of the opening weekend. That’s not a knock on Smith, but the fact that the posterchild for game managers was able to post yardage and QB rating higher than some of your favorite quarterbacks is admonishing. Quite frankly, it says that a lot of your favorite QB’s had some back-to-work jitters.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady looked like the 40-year-old player he thought he could play above; Green Bay packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered 4 sacks despite getting a win over the Seattle Seahawks, whose own QB, Russell Wilson, saw himself get dogged for 3 sacks while throwing for 158 yards. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton both combined 9 sacks and 7 interceptions in their own games.
Maybe with the exception of Dalton, these quarterbacks are usually associated with big games, but this weekend has not been the case. It is Week 1, so everybody is getting back into the groove of things and trying to get back to their gametime rhythm. All these perennial bottom feeders might want to enjoy it now before October cmes around or even Week 2.
Players Getting Paid without Playing Time
Every year, certain players stage holdouts in order to get more money than their current contracts can provide. There are times when it fails but then there are times like this season when some players are about to get a huge payday. Consider the cases of Houston Texans left tackle Duane Brown and New York Giants Wide Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. When these two are on their respected teams, their squads are powerful. When they are absent, through injury or holdout, their teams are completely washed.
Take a look at the games their teams played on Sunday. The Houston Texans were supposed to nab an easy win over the Jacksonville Jaguars for their home opener. However, that was not the case with the Jaguars causing 10 sacks, including 4 by newly signed Calais Campbell. How about the Giants, who not only struggled to protect quarterback Eli Manning, but could not find a playmaker at wide receiver against a Dallas Cowboys defense known to have problems against the pass. Both players have made headlines for wanting new contracts but have gone about it different ways. Beckham decided to play through the season but was out due to an ankle injury suffered in the preseason. Brown just sat out the preseason and is still holding out, despite the Texans having a short week and facing the Cincinatti Bengals on this coming Thursday.
Their absence probably helped them achieve the same goal. Both players have 2 years left on their current deals, so really, there is still time for negotiations to happen. The main difference is, that Beckham is playing on a rookie deal while Brown is a 10 year veteran; the former has all the time in the world while the latter has no time to waste. Both the Giants and the Texans are trying to win now, so time is of the economic essence.
Is the AP experiment over?
Monday, Adrian Peterson made his debut with the New Orleans Saints by taking on his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, but it appears the Sainst could be added to that “former team” list. During halftime of the game, ESPN analyst Charles Woodson suggested the Saints already trade Peterson after he had a lackluster first half of 4 carries. It sounds ridiculous to conjure up that statement after just one game, but in a 16 game season there are quite a few things to consider.
There are only 17 weeks of NFL action, so suggesting someone get traded after one game is both alarming and irrlelevant. However, consider that Drew Brees is approaching the end of his career and the defense can’t stop a run-on sentence. If a trade could happen for a high 3rd or 4th round pick, then so be it. You have two aging stars on your team and will need to prepare for rebuilding in a few years. Your division is stocked with contenders such as the Carolina Panthers led by Cam Newton, and the Atlanta Falcons led by Matt Ryan. There’s no way you can compete right now against the NFC’s last 2 Super Bowl representatives. AP in your backfield is a nice concept but can it be a long-term plan?
It was weird for Peterson to show up in his old team’s stadium in another locker room and jersey, but also weird for him to have the performance that he did as well. Peterson is basically playing in a high octane offense, something that his 31-year-old body might not be used to at this stage in his career. While he was brought in to boost the running game, it seemed like the Saints could not escape playing to the “strengths” of having quarterback Drew Brees pass the ball. His 6 carries for 18 yards will only foresee him playing a power running back role, even though it tied for the team lead on tonight. This will require the Saints to commit to that more than they are accustomed to.
Could the Cowboys be the next 2016 Patriots?
Last season’s Super bowl win for the New England Patriots was quite the sweet deal. What it made so sweet was the fact that commissioner Roger Goodell served quarterback Tom Brady a 4 game suspension for his role in Deflategate, which was obviously known to be disliked by the Patriots organization. Hoisting that trophy in Goodell’s face, after a 31 point comeback to win the game, made that a career highlight. Fast forward to 2017 with Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot, who was facing a 6 game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy under the league’s new domestic violence guidelines. However, after an appeal was filed and a preliminary injunction set, the suspension was put on hold, which allowed Elliot to play in Week 1 and also for the rest of the season, until further notice.
It sounds eerily similar to what happened with a certain QB in Massachusetts. If you remember, the initial Deflategate controversy happened heading into the 2015 season. It was the appeals process, court proceedings and multiple investigations that prolonged everything into the next year and had the 4 game suspension upheld for 2016. For Elliot, there are so many things that are a little more damning to the opposition that would drop his suspension altogether. First, the text messages of the accuser allegedly conversing with a friend that this was just a setup and she was just trying to get a profit. Then, Kia Roberts, the investigator appointed by the NFL to look in to the matter, recommended that Elliot serve no suspension after interviewing the accuser, Tiffany Thompson. The only contradicting aspect in this ordeal, is the fact that the NFL discovered the photos of Thompson’s injuries, and have used metadata to match with times that link to the conclusion of Elliot causing these injuries.
If Elliot serves this suspension, then the Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl. I’m not the one for endorsing that type of statement with the Cowboys, but this seems to be shaping up just like Deflategate, but with more uncertainty in favor of the player. It might not be a decision we will have to wait on very long either, so just be prepared for 2 straight years of pettiness on Super Bowl night.
Shout out to the Jacksonville Jaguars and their 10 sacks in a 29-7 win over divisional rival Houston Texans. The real winner of that stat was defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who had 4 sacks.
Shut out to the Indianapolis Colts’ defense, who gave up 46 points to the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback Jared Goff. Now to be fair, the Colts only gave up 32, since the Rams had two pick 6’s, but I was just trying to make comparing defense a theme, so whatever.
Shout out to Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley for his one-handed catch and balancing act. Sunday night, against the Giants, Beasley caught a pass behind his head
Shut out to the Cincinatti Bengals, who literally got shut out in their 20-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Shout to Minnesota Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook. He rushed for 127 yards in his debut, which was 20 more yards than the running back he was playing against, Adrian Peterson, the new addition to the New Orleans Saints.
Shut out to the New York Jets for the 2nd most embarrassing play in franchise history. In the 1st quarter, Juston Burris intercepted a pass and was well on his way to a pick 6, until his teammate, Marcus Maye was pushed into him and stopped him. Not exactly the level of buttfumble, but still…
That’s all I have for this week but expect a little quality this weekend now that everyone is warmed up. The Atlanta Falcons will have their season opener in their brand new stadium, by hosting the Green Bay Packers for Sunday Night Football. Last regular season, these two teams put on a classic but the Falcons put on a clinic during the conference championships. Both teams had “low” scores by their standards to win in Week 1, but you can expect a ton of videogame-like action this Sunday. But until then…I’ll holla.
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