Welcome to a little exercise in opinion-making mirth that I like to call “NFL Tell the Truth Tuesday.”
No. 1 … The NFL should have ordered the St. Louis Rams to move to Mexico City.
If the league wanted to arbitrarily implement its corrupt relocation process and hijack the Rams from St. Louis, commissioner Roger Goodell and his bad lieutenants should have told Jed Clampett Kroenke to forget about Inglewood and truck the Rams to Mexico.
The League doesn’t need Los Angeles and its fickle fan base that won’t fill a stadium unless (A) there’s a novelty factor, or (B) the team is entertaining and great. Otherwise, lots of empty seats. Did the NFL suffer without a franchise in the Los Angeles market between 1995 and 2015? Of course not.
With no team in LA, the league’s annual revenue poured in at ungodly and unforeseen levels, network and cable TV contracts became more lucrative than ever, TV ratings soared, and greedy team owners could use the vacant SoCal area as leverage to pressure their home markets into funding plush stadiums.
Watching the Houston-Oakland game on Monday night, it’s clear that Mexico City is passionate for NFL football. Putting the Rams there would have opened a new territory and created an endless oil well of new revenue that would have brought money-grubbing league owners to their knees in the lust for enormous profits. And if Jed didn’t want to take his WalMart football store to Mexico City, then too bad.
Instead the league gave Jed the freedom to take over the Los Angeles market and do considerable long-term damage to the nation’s second-largest market… besides, shining a laser in Jeff Fisher’s eyes might wake him the hell up and remind him that it’s 2016, and the foward pass is relevant.
No. 2 … It pains me to say it, but the party is over in Arizona.
At 4-5-1, the Cardinals are washing out for 2016 and will go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the season … If you take away the two wins over the pathetic 49ers, AZ is 2-5-1 against everyone else … the Arizona offense, which was 3rd in the league in points from scrimmage last season, is 16th this year … the Cardinals scored points on 43 percent of their possessions last season, ranking 3rd — but that rate has dropped to 30 percent in 2016, which ranks 25th.
Quarterback Carson Palmer suddenly appears to be about 79 years old. Behind a hopelessly overmatched offensive line, Carson Palmer is battered and desperate and spitting out turnovers like a malfunctioning slot machine … head coach Bruce Arians, known for his imaginative offense, has lost the magic … Arians had to be checked into a hospital Sunday night with chest pains, and fortunately he’s OK … but more discomfort is coming.
The Cardinals’ remaining schedule puts them on the road for 4 of 6 games … and they’ll play four times against winning teams that are hungrily competing for postseason spots … I’m an Arizona fan … I’ll hope for the best … but turn out the lights.
No. 3 … I’ve tried to avoid buying stock on Ryan Tannehill, but I’m ready to believe.
Tannehill seems to be coming of age under his new head coach, Adam Gase, in Miami. A great quarterback? No. A winning quarterback? Well, it sure looks like it. During the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak Tannehill has completed 68 percent of his throws for 6 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 99.3 rating.
It isn’t always pretty, but Tannehill has been money late in close games; that was certainly the case in Sunday’s 14-10 comeback win over the clown-show Rams. In leading the Dolphins to five wins in a row, Tannehill has a 115.7 passer rating in the fourth quarter, a 120.1 rating in the fourth quarter when there’s a one-score margin between the teams, and a 126.5 rating during the final two minutes. Gase is about 17 years old, but he knows how to train quarterbacks.
No. 4 … I don’t care that the Kansas City Chiefs are 7-3. I don’t trust them.
For a team with such an impressive record, the Chiefs are living a fragile existence. The KC defense is outstanding, leading the NFL with 23 takeaways and ranking 5th in fewest offensive points allowed. But here’s the deal: the Chiefs defense is propping up the offense in a way that could cause the whole thing to tumble down.
This season Kansas City ranks No. 2 in the league in points scored (72) as the result of takeaways, And takeaways by the KC defense — indirectly or directly — are responsible for 32.4% of the Chiefs’ points this season, the second-highest rate in the league…the Chiefs offense has scored touchdowns on only 16 percent of their possessions; that ranks 28th among the 32 teams.
The Chiefs also have the league’s fewest number of drives that last for 60+ yards, with only 10 … and as 101ESPN producer Brandon Kiley points out, the supposedly mobile quarterback Alex Smith has fewer rushing yards than New England’s Tom Brady this season. Goodness … How long can Kansas City live on turnovers? How long can the Chiefs get away with a lethargic offense that isn’t carrying its weight? When fans are calling for Nick Foles to replace Smith, that’s pretty scary.
No. 5 … Jared Goff has questionable arm strength
He’s played only one game? Too soon for to say that? Sorry, but this is Tell the Truth Tuesday … and I don’t care that it was raining in Los Angeles when Goff made his first start for the Rams, in Sunday’s wet-towel loss to the Dolphins. Goff is the No. 1 overall draft pick … the Rams gave up six draft choices to move up to No. 1 and take him … and we’re supposed to make excuses because he played some ball in the rain?
It wasn’t a monsoon, it wasn’t a hurricane, it wasn’t even a thunderstorm, and I didn’t see a mudslide at the ancient Coliseum. It was a light rain. Big dripping deal. As expected, Rams coach Jeff Fisher babied Goff, who attempted only 5 passes that traveled more than 10 yards from scrimmage according to Pro Football Focus … And Goff did not complete a pass on his 5 throws that covered 10+ air yards … those passes floated, as if filled with helium.
As Randy Karraker said in our weekly 101Sports.com podcast, Goff looks like Steve Walsh. Remember Walsh? He had no zip on passes that went beyond the dink and dunk range … Goff had poor accuracy when under pressure, completing only 38 percent with four overthrown passes and a rating of 50.2 according to PFF. It’s no wonder that the Rams blew a late 10-0 lead and lost 14-10.
No. 6 … Don’t apologize, Ray Lewis. You were right: Joe Flacco lacks passion.
Baltimore Ravens fans have been hollering about this for a while now. Flacco isn’t exactly lighting a fire under his team’s dull offense. And he plays the game like a dude that’s walking into a dentist’s office for a three-hour drilling.
Since Flacco had the month of his life to lead the 2012 Ravens through the AFC playoffs and eventually to a Super Bowl title, Flacco is 26-26 as a starter, with 70 touchdown passes and 55 interceptions (awful) and a mediocre 81.6 passer rating. Hell, Kellen Clemens could do that … Flacco probably lacks a few other things: a reliable rushing attack, a creative offensive coordinator, etc.
No. 7 … Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
And no one will notice. Not unless the Bears sign Anthony Rizzo to take over at QB. I don’t like to see any player hurt, but perhaps the Bears and 31 other teams will wake up from the Cutler spell? Seriously, how much money will idiotic general managers continue to pay Cutler before realizing he’s empty stats, with no substance, and a vacant-eyed stare that indicates he’d rather be anywhere else than competing on an NFL playing field?
No. 8 … The Cincinnati Bengals are surprisingly lousy at 3-6-1, but this is no fluke.
The decline actually began last year. After starting the 2015 season by winning their first eight games, the Bengals finished 4-4 in the their final eight games, then lost to Pittsburgh in the wild -card game … if you add it all up, and count the playoff loss to the Steelers, Cincinnati is 7-11-1 in its last 19 games.
If we cite just the regular-season football, the Bengals are 7-10-1 in their last 18 games for a .417 winning percentage that ranks 24th in the league, just ahead of the Rams. The Cincy roster isn’t the same. The talent is down. Injuries are taking down some of the few difference-making offensive skill players that still remain.
During this 7-10-1 stretch the Bengals rank 24th with an average of 21.4 points per game, and they’re 15th in yards. Things won’t get better. The window is just about slammed shut. The trending arrow is pointing down. Look at it this way: Bengals fans won’t have to swallow another hideous playoff loss.
No. 9 … The NFL can investigate Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott to determine if there are suspension-worthy misdeeds in his alleged episodes of domestic violence, but nothing serious will happen to ‘Zeke.
Why? Please. Haven’t you been paying attention? Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has as much if not more power than Goodell, and Goodell is his boy, and there’s little chance that Goodell will find the cojones to take down Jerry’s team. Not if Goodell wants to stay on as commissioner and continue raking in an annual salary of $31 million.
No. 10 … Remember the PC bros telling us how Colin Kaepernick would raise awareness and change the culture with anthem protests?
Neither do I. Change the world? The dude didn’t even bother to vote in the recent presidential election. San Francisco coach Chip Kelly needs to vote for another quarterback. And I can’t believe my mang Nick Wagoner moved from covering the STL Rams to the Bay Area to cover the 49ers for ESPN.com … if anyone has a reason to protest, it’s Daddy Wags … Too much bad football in one young man’s lifetime … Free Nick Wagoner!
Thanks for reading …