Black Quarterback: The Step Back and See It Episode
By Brandon Simmons
Have the Vikings lost their Warrior Spirit?
The Minnesota Vikings are coming off a huge season in which they reached the conference finals with one of the best defenses in the league but things have not matched up the same so far this year. After winning their season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, they have been on a winless streak which included a Week 2 tie with the Green Bay Packers and a 2 game slide against the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams. Both of the last 2 games showed weaknesses on both sides of the ball, the last one exposed a huge deficiency within their defense. The unit that finished last year as number one has become a shell of itself giving up at least 25 points in the last 3 games. Thursday, the Vikings were involved in a shootout with the Rams and lost 38-31. That can be expected from the high scoring L.A. team but the week before they were trampled by the Bills 27-6, who was led by a rookie quarterback.
The Vikings defense will have to step up their play. It’s one thing to give up 38 to the Rams, but when Bills rookie QB Josh Allen jumped over linebacker Anthony Barr, it sort of represented a sentiment that this team can be punked at will. That should have been their wake-up call. They were early favorites to make the Super Bowl but things are looking troubling overall, especially for their defense. The Green bay Packers still have Aaron Rodgers; the Detroit Lions may have found their running game; the Chicago Bears are catching people off guard with their offensive fire power. Minnesota looks to be heading in the wrong direction and they have to find their warriors spirit to storm into the right one.
Who can take out the Patriots?
The New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins Sunday, to get to 2-2 for the year; but that’s not really a highlight for last season’s AFC champs. If the playoffs began today, the Patriots would be sitting on the outside. Of course, that’s highly unlikely this would happen since New England always seem to have their shit together as the end of the season winds down. But this year might be a little different as the AFC has has quite a few threats to another Pats’ title run.
The last 2 games the Patriots played, has sort of exposed what their weaknesses could be. In the Jaguars’ game, New England got an unwanted surprise of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles throwing for 354 yards and 4 touchdowns. The following week, the Patriots came up on a Detroit Lions team that suddenly found their running game. A key component to note in both contests is that New England lost the time of possession in each game. In the Lions game, they had only two drives that went past 2 minutes. It definitely helps a team to a victory when QB Tom brady is not on the field picking apart your defense with the same system he has been in for 20 years.
These threats are teams who have a high degree of difficulty with separate team units. The Jaguars were able to utilize their stout defense to fend off Brady, while Bortles was able to shine in his own right against the best quarterback in the league. Their defensive line is menacing to opposing offenses and is and is no different to the New England signal-caller. On the flip side of this, the Kansas City Chiefs and their offense will def provide issues for that Patriots defense. Despite their defense residing near the bottom of the league, the Chiefs have the running game to control the clock and the receivers to get down the field. Also, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is a dual threat who does not mind getting out of the pocket to escape pressure and extend plays.
New England ‘s first four games of the season could be anamoly from how promising the rest of their 2018 campaign could be. They acquired wide receiver Josh Gordon from the Cleveland Browns and wide receiver Julian Edelman returns from his 4 game suspension. Also, rookie running back Sony Michel could be coming along pretty nicely for them and provide a stable rushing attack. The chances of taking the Patriots out will be tough but the chances will be there.
The Other Side of Holdouts
It seems that the holdout storylines for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell and Settle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas storylines ending with very different outcomes but the same message: Get your Money. Monday, it was reported that Bell would return to the team during Week 7, effectively ending his holdout for the year. Thomas broke his leg Sunday in a win over the Arizona Cardinals and proceeded to flip off the Seahawks sideline. His injury only illustrates a sad reality, that not all holdouts are alike
Like any other athlete, or hard-working human being, Thomas and Bell wanted to get paid their worth; but in the end, the fear of suffering an injury with no guarantee occurred instead. This was the final year of Thomas’ contract and it has been halted with a season-ending injury. He is also going to be turning 30 by the time the next season rolls around and teams might not be willing to pour money onto an aging veteran the same can be said for Bell, who is a little younger in age, but just as old when it comes to running back years. When a running back hits 30, teams are either pairing them with their replacement or cutting ties completely.
This is a reminder that not all holdouts lead to the bag. Earlier this year, Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald and then-Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack both held out from their teams in search of new contracts. Eventually they got them but in different ways. The Rams did end up paying Donald while the Raiders traded Mack, but he ended up with a 6 year $141 million contract But then you will have stories like Le’Veon Bell and Earl Thomas. Bell must come back to play for a contract he doesn’t want while possibly awaiting to be traded to a team he may not want to play for. Thomas did end up getting injured playing in his contract year and losing any leverage he may have had for free agency.
Shout out to Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid for his decision to go for it on 4th down. In Monday’s win over the Denver Broncos, the Chiefs were down 23-13 in the 4th quarter on 4th and 1. That’s when Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes threw a pass to Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who caught it and ran for 22 yards. Chiefs eventually finished their comeback by scoring a touchdown on their next drive beating Denver 27-23.
Shut out to Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich who failed on his 4th down choice. The Colts were facing a 4th and 4 in overtime against the Houston Texans; but an incomplete pass by QB Andrew Luck turned the ball over on downs and put the Texans in field goal position to win the game.
You can expect some more gutsy calls with 2 huge matchups looming this weekend. The Philadelphia Eagles will host the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last season’s NFC title game. Both teams are coming off losses and trying to overcome their early season hiccups. You can expect both squads to put on a big fight. The main event will likely be between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chiefs had a little bit of trouble with that Broncos defense but ended up pulling off that comeback win. The Jaguars defense is a lot better than Denver but Jag QB Blake Bortles is no Mahomes. However, the Chiefs defense is so trash they would probably make Bortles look like Drew Brees. This will be a matchup where something has to give because neither one of these will give up until they win. But until then…I’ll holla.
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