Enduring injuries not enjoyable
Whether it’s injuries concentrated at one position depleting depth or a whole host of injuries across the squad, the lack of pre-season and a stunted training camp is coming back to bite players and teams on the back side. With the main concern being Covid 19 itself, the ripple effect it has caused has indirectly impacted the season through the first 3 weeks.
Hamstrings have dominated the news but unfortunately so have Achilles and ACL tears in the first few weeks of the season and have been way more prevalent than we would like. Many predicted that those who could handle and navigate around Covid 19 directly would be the ones playing January football. The rate the injuries are going, I’d be surprised if we have any teams left.
From the stars of Jimmy Garoppolo, Drew Lock, Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Davante Adams, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Nick Bosa and Derwin James (the list can go on for eternity) to those at the back end of team rosters, teams have been decimated through 3 weeks and has led to teams having to learn on the fly.
Can the injury lists be sustainable for high scoring and entertaining football or if players continue to drop like flies, will the interest and high level of quality football being produced fizzle out?
One saving grace is that due to the IR changes this year, it has helped those teams adjust quickly, something in which most teams are adept at doing and has been a welcome modification for 2020.
Expect the injuries to continue to pile up and to learn a lot more names than you would have coming in to the season.
Buff Justice for the Rams
Those watching the Bills vs Rams game were treated to a classic. It had the hallmarks of the Patriots/Falcons Super Bowl 2.0. Bills stormed out to a 28-3 lead before Goff and the Rams dragged their way back in to it taking the next 29 points unanswered. There is a different ending to this story however with a dash of Rams pass interference mixed in to the melting pot.
The Rams driving get to the 13yard line with 25 seconds left. It’s 4th and 8 with Josh Allen throwing the ball targeting Gabriel Davis. It looked as though the Rams had defended it and were coming out for victory formation, but a late(ish) flag from the side line adjudged Darious Williams to have caused pass interference, giving Allen and the Bills a new set of downs. The next play, Allen lofted his 4th passing touchdown of the game and 2nd to TE Tyler Kroft for the go ahead score and essentially the game.
After watching replays you can have sympathy for the Rams team and their fans and it’s always frustrating when the officials have determined a result from a decision late in the game, but I’m not sure too many fans will be willing to lend a sympathetic ear due to a call the Rams benefitted from in the 2019 NFC Championship game against the Saints.
You win some, you lose some. Unfortunately for the Rams, their efforts to grab victory from the jaws of defeat went unrewarded on Sunday in Buffalo. It would have been interesting call if Pass Interference could still be challenged…
UNDRAFTED… BUT FINDING NFL LIFE A BREEZE
The Jacksonville Jaguars may be smarting from their 31-13 loss to Miami last Thursday – a game many thought they might win – but it wasn’t all doom and gloom, despite slumping to 1-2. The silver lining round that particular cloud has to be the emergence of rookie running back James Robinson.
It’s not a great year to be an undrafted free agent (UFA). Breaking through via the back door is unlikely at the best of times but the restricted run-up to the season due to COVID-19 has left players outside the draft looking in with an even tougher path ahead of them. But not Robinson. He was snaffled from Illinois State, where he rushed for a pleasingly symmetrical 4,444 yards and 44 touchdowns (both second in the school history books), apparently thanks to a hunch from the wife of a team scout charged with finding a RB. And having waived former #4 overall pick Leonard Fournette just days before the season began, the Jaguars named Robinson as their RB1, ahead of Devine Ozigbo and Ryquell Armstead.
He’s certainly grabbed the opportunity with both hands. In Week 1 against the Colts, he broke the rushing record by a UFA debutant with 62 rushing yards. A week later, he had his first 100-yard game and first score. Robinson was also the bright spot against the Dolphins, finishing with 11 carries for 46 yards and two rushing TDs. He also led the Jags with six catches for 84 yards, finishing with 129 yards on the night.
After three career games, Robinson now has the most total yards (339) for an undrafted player in the common draft era (since 1967) and is the only undrafted player to record at least 300 scrimmage yards and multiple touchdowns through three games. To put things into even sharper perspective, Robinson’s three rushing TDs already matches his team’s entire total from last season.
As I write this, with Monday Night Football still to come, Robinson sits 10th among the NFL’s rushers with 210 yards on the ground and eighth in total yards across the whole league. Not bad for a player costing Jacksonville a mere $610,000 – about $22.4 million less than Fournette was paid. Illustrating his rapidly rising stock, Robinson is now fourth in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year behind fellow running backs Jonathan Taylor and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Bengals QB Joe Burrow (oddschecker.com).
As an interesting footnote, Miami’s own UFA Myles Gaskin racked up 66 rushing yards from 22 carries – three times as many touches as Matt Breida and Jordan Howard combined – and hauled in all five of his targets for a further 29 yards on Thursday. So maybe ditching the high-profile, high-cost prima donna in favour of the hungry, overlooked player with a chip on his shoulder is the way to go?
Sunday Night Showdown Provides…
Last week I wrote that Aaron Rodgers needed to take Green Bay into New Orleans and make a statement. Well, here we are, Week 3 almost in the bag and what did Aaron Rodgers do? He made a real big statement.
The sure-fire future Hall-Of-Famer threw for 283 yards with 3 TDs and no picks. The Packers were without their stand-out WR1, DeVante Adams out of the game due to a minor hamstring strain, yet they still managed to rack up almost 300 yards of passing offence. Allen Lazard stepped up into the WR1 role in a big way, with 146 yards and a TD.
Aaron Rodgers looks back to his previous MVP calibre self. In his post-game press conference Rodgers said “I feel so much more comfortable in the offense this year.” Matt LaFleur has clearly ensured that the Green Bay offense in 2020 plays more toward Rodgers strengths. He looks like he’s having a tonne of fun playing in it, and I’m all about it. His 48-yard completion down the side-line to Allen Lazard was poetic, so much so it’s disappointing that it didn’t go for a TD.
Green Bay will go to the Superbowl. Yep. That’s right.
Too Little Too Late for Brees?
On the flip side of the Sunday Night Showdown was Drew Brees and the Saints. Granted they were without the dominant Michael Thomas, but the Saints couldn’t get it done against a supreme Green Bay side. I can’t help but feel the Drew Brees ship has sailed…
Whilst they will certainly be in the conversation come January, are they better than the likes of Green Bay or Seattle? Then even if they get past their NFC counterparts, can they really go toe-to-toe with Kansas City, Tampa Bay or Baltimore in the bowl game? I’m really not sure anymore.
Even with Alvin Kamara having a game to more than justify that contract extension, the Saints still fell to their 2nd loss in a row and whilst they certainly looked better than they did in Las Vegas in week 2, they sit 1-2 in their division with a real tough ask to get into the play-offs as winner of the NFC South. Next week they travel to Detroit and really need to get back to .500 if they want to have any shot of competing against Tampa Bay for the division.
Marcus Williams’ missed tackle at the end of the 4th Quarter vs Minnesota in the 2017 NFC Divisional Game must play on repeat in Sean Payton’s nightmares…
I want winners
Mike Singletary was immortalised when he gave his ‘winners’ speech in a post-game meltdown, and for the fans of the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions they can at last taste the sweet nectar of a W. The Lions needed the final play of the game and a Matt Prater 39yard boot to overcome the Kyler Murray led Arizona Cardinals, and the Panthers, who led for 54 minutes in the game, scored the upset against the Chargers minus Run CMC.
The Lions, who welcomed WR Kenny Golliday back, picked off Murray three times. The Panthers had an impressive performance from backup RB Mike
Davis who led his team in rushes and catches (a fine DFS play). Shout out to Efe Obada the Brit playing for the Panthers, who had a fumble recovery in the big win. Don’t get too excited yet Lions fans – it’s approximately 10,500 days since you won a playoff game.
Six of the best
Steven Gotskowski will be going to the Hall of Fame one day, complete with his three rings won as a Patriots stalwart. Coming into Week 3 Gotskowski had the stat line of a nervous undrafted rookie free agent kicker – 50% on 6 FG attempts and 4-6 on EXPs. Likely cut by many fantasy owners for the
iconic Rodrigo Blankenship prior to Sunday, Gotskowski hit on six of six FGs and was 1-1 on his only PAT as the Tennessee Titans win 31-30 against the Minnesota Vikings.
One shanked kick, or a single wide left and the Titans are 2-1 and asking questions. Kickers are a unique breed, with minds akin to goldfish, as they have to forget their last bad boot and focus on the next attempt ahead. Gotskowski has now kicked the winning points three weeks in a row. At the rate the Titans are going, hanging around in tight games, who’s to say he does this for 13 more weeks?