Let’s check in on Commissioner Roger Goodell’s National Football League, and with Dallas owner Jerry Jones mad at him over the Zeke Elliott Suspension, you just never know when the commish will just up and disappear.
Goodell made the mistake of having Jones serve as the muscle, the enforcer, in the league’s franchise-moving bidness … with Jerrah pressuring and pushing the other NFL team owners to sign off on the Los Angeles relocations. But as Goodell may find out, the problem with letting an attack dog off the leash is the risk he may turn on you… so we’ll see if Jerry will allow Roger to get that new contract.
Now, lets move on …
1. Case Keenum is alive, backing up Sam Bradford in Minnesota, and now starting for the Vikings after $am’s latest knee injury. And people are puzzled by the league’s overall decrease in points scored through the first two weeks of the season?
2. Acres of empty seats in Los Angeles, with Chargers not selling out a 27,000 seat venue in suburban Carson for their first LA home-opener, and the Rams playing two home games to start the season, with about 30,000 unoccupied seats in the Coliseum for each contest. But just remember: St. Louis is a baseball town that didn’t support football. Except for the more than 50,000 that showed up every home game for a team that was spreading manure during a 15-65 stretch that presented the fans of St. Louis with the worst five-season record by a team in NFL history. By the way, USC drew more fans to the Coliseum for the Texas game Saturday night than the Chargers-Rams combined attendance on Sunday.
3. I want to believe in the Baltimore Ravens’ defense which has 10 takeaways and eight sacks in allowing only 10 total points in the first two games of the season. But man, I’m seeing some geeked-up pundits starting to compare the 2017 Ravens defense to the 2000 Ravens defense … and that 2000 defense was one of the greatest ever. May I point out that the ‘17 Ravens’ first two opponents were Cincinnati and Cleveland? That said, the Baltimore defense sure looks fresher and improved. But will the Ravens be able to score enough to support it? QB Joe Flacco is playing behind a diminishing offensive line that’s missing a couple of starters including Marshal Yanda, one of the best guards in the NFL. Broken ankle. Done for the season.
4. I wasn’t kidding about the sickly offenses we’ve seen in the NFL over the first two weeks. NFL teams averaged 20.1 points per game, the lowest scoring rate for the first two weeks since 1997. And the opening two-week average of 4.26 touchdowns per game (the combined total for both teams in a game) was the lowest since 2005. This is the 48th season since the 1970 merger. And the average number of touchdowns scored per game through the first two weeks of season ranks 41st on the list of 48.
5. We can’t blame sensational Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who in his first two NFL showcases rolled up 377 combined rushing-receiving yards, an average of 177.5 yards from scrimmage per game. Hunt’s 377 scrimmage yards are 113 more than the second RB on the list — Denver’s C.J. Anderson. Rush also leads the NFL with five touchdowns from scrimmage. This is a fine total for one player considering that a TOTAL OF 21 TEAMS have scored fewer touchdowns from scrimmage than Hunt so far.
6. Since we’re back on that topic: the NY Giants, Seattle, Cincinnati and San Francisco have played eight games (combined) so far. And the four teams, combined, scored only TWO offensive touchdowns in 32 quarters of football. (The Giants and Seahawks each had one.)
7. So … Jerry Jones is enabling his wayward running back, Mr. Elliott. Gee, how shocking. Someone pass the smelling salts because I think I’m about to pass out.
8. The Rams’ new coach, Sean McVay, was hired to create an actual NFL offense for the team after several consecutive years of “The Walking Dead” offense put on the field by the revenant otherwise known as Jeff Fisher. McVay already has succeeded in getting running back Todd Gurley motoring again. In his first two games Gurley had 232 combined rushing-receiving yards and three touchdowns. As the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the 2015 St. Louis Rams, Gurley averaged 99.5 yards from scrimmage per game. In 2016, Gurley evidently fell asleep when reading the most boring playbook in league history; his average scrimmage yards per game dropped to 75.8. But McVay is getting Gurley busy, and Gurley has responded by averaging 116 yards from scrimmage in the first two weeks. The 232 total yards include 104 yards receiving.
9. The top three teams in the AFC West are scoring so much, it’s bringing back memories of the old AFL. Oakland (2-0) leads the league with 35.5 points per game, Kansas City (2-0) is second at 34.5 points per game, and Denver (2-0) is tied for third in the NFL with an average of 33 points. In the first two weeks the Chiefs, Raiders and Broncos combined to score 16.5 percent of the total points scored in the entire league. And the three AFC West leaders have scored just under 20 percent of the NFL’s total touchdowns. Damn. This is the way they used to do it in KC, with Lenny Dawson throwing to Otis Taylor … and in Oakland, with Daryle Lamonica bombing away to Fred Biletnikoff and Warren Wells … and in Denver, with Lionel Taylor running under deep passes and Floyd Little slashing and zig-zagging for yards on the ground.
10. A quick note about the New England Patriots: LaGarrette Blount apparently has been renamed Mike Gillislee. Bill Belichick just about always finds the right replacement parts. Lose a Blount to free agency, then just plug in Gillislee.
11. Offensive guru Kyle Shanahan was hired away from his post as Atlanta’s O-Coordinator to take over as head coach in San Francisco. I guess this is going to take a little while; the 49ers haven’t scored a touchdown in their first two games, but have booted four field goals… the Niners are dead last in the NFL with an average of 251 yards per game on offense. Joe Montana doesn’t live there anymore.
12. Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had to leave Sunday’s game in Baltimore because of a painful migraine. Which means he had to be a spectator and watch the Browns attempt to play this game called football, and with his head hurting. You know, just like every other Browns fan.
13. We’re watching you, Matthew Stafford. Off to a great start. You and your Detroit Lions are 2-0 and creating a buzz … this week, the defending-champ Atlanta Falcons come to Motown. Make your move, Lions. Show us you’re for real.
14. Philadelphia second-year quarterback Carson Wentz is looking good; he even led the Eagles in rushing (55 yards) in last week’s loss at Kansas City. But c’mon fellas. Give this quarterback a rushing attack. The Eagles haven’t had a running back gain 50 yards in either of the first two games, and that hasn’t happened with them since 1989. Give the rock to Wilbert Montgomery.
15. A report from Jacksonville on quarterback Blake Bortles: To quote David Byrne of Talking Heads: Same as it ever was. Or, to sort of quote the late coach Dennis Green: Bortles is who we thought he was.
Thanks for reading …