Last Weekend In Football

Last weekend was my first football binge-watching event of the season; it did not take me long to get back into the groove.  The plan for today is to provide some impressions of what I saw – and what I read about – in college football and NFL football.  I’ll start with college football.

LSU paid Troy to come to Baton Rouge to be the “Homecoming Opponent”.  Troy won the game and that did not make for much of a celebration in Tiger-land.  When the LSU folks fired Les Miles, I said that they may be a bit delusional about their expectations for achievement for their football team.  Their new coach, Ed Orgeron, is now feeling the heat.

Washington State and Luke Falk are for real.  They beat USC in a very close game and the Washington State defense played a major role in the win.  That is not a traditional strength shown by Mike Leach-coached teams, but it was on display over the weekend.

Something very strange is happening in Tallahassee.  Florida State struggled to win a game that prevented the Seminoles from starting 2017 with an 0-3 record.  Moreover, the team they struggled to beat was Wake Forest.  Yes, I know they lost their #1 QB to injury early on, but still…

Georgia is a very good football team.  They went to Knoxville and they dominated Tennessee in every phase of the game.  Tennessee coach, Butch Jones, has complained in the past that his team has not gotten the attention and recognition it deserves.  After two weeks where the Vols barely beat UMass and then got stomped by Georgia, my guess is that he would like to see the spotlight aimed elsewhere.

The Oklahoma St./Texas Tech game was close and exciting.  I was very impressed with the accuracy of Oklahoma St. QB, Mason Rudolph, particularly on throws where he had to drop the ball into receivers’ hands over the hands of defenders.

In Wisconsin’s win over Northwestern, the Badgers’ defense racked up 10 sacks of the QB.  Somehow, this was still a one-score game in the 4th quarter until one of those sacks also produced a safety.

Ole Miss had played Alabama tough the last several years and had upset the Crimson tide a couple of times.  Not this year; the final score was 66-3 and the score reflected the difference between the two teams.  This was an old-fashioned beatdown.

Division III Linfield College beat Whitworth last week 38-9 taking the Wildcats’ record in 2017 to 2-1.  Remember, the last time Linfield had a losing season in football was in 1956.

Moving up a level to the NFL, I noticed the crowd for the Eagles game against the Chargers in LA.  It looked to me as if there were at least as many fans wearing green jerseys as there were Chargers’ fans.  In case you were sleeping through geography class, it is more than a quick trip around the corner to get from Philly to LA.  That ought to be a warning signal for the NFL and its owners.

Los Angeles is a huge market when you measure all the demographic stats.  The problem is that it is not a great pro football market and putting 2 NFL teams in that market is not a good long-term idea.  In a more generic sense, the inability of the Chargers to sell out its 30,000-seat bandbox stadium is another example of the public’s unwillingness to enjoy the “NFL stadium experience”.  In the past, when a new stadium appeared in a city, fans filled it; the Rams/Chargers will inhabit new digs in a couple of years and we shall see how that goes.  The same applies to the Raiders as they make their long and protracted march to Las Vegas.  The Chargers’ attendance woes are not unique; there is a relatively new stadium for the Niners in Santa Clara and it has lots and lots of empty seats on a regular basis.

Before the start of the Ravens/Steelers game in Baltimore, the PA announcer asked the crowd to join in a moment of silent prayer “for kindness, for unity, for equality and for justice for all Americans”.  The Ravens as a team took a knee for that silent prayer and the fans deluged that act with “Boos”.  The teams then stood for the National Anthem.

  1. Since when is it even marginally acceptable to “Boo” a prayer?
  2. Why were those doing the booing opposed to either kindness or unity or equality or justice?

The Dolphins lost a game in London to the Saints.  OK, move on to the next game…  Except, the Saints pitched a shutout in that game.  Yes, the Saints’ defense pitched a shutout.  That ought to make it a tad more difficult for the Dolphins simply to move on to the next game.

The Bengals came to life against the Browns – as indeed, most teams come to life against the Browns.  Andy Dalton had been the target of bile and scorn from Bengals’ fans but his stats last weekend had to be acceptable to just about anyone:

  • He completed 17 of his first 18 passes.
  • He finished the day 25 for 30 for 264 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs.

Last week was not Deshaun Watson’s first start in the NFL but it was his coming-out party.  The Texans beat the Titans 57-14 and Watson merely threw 4 TDs and scored another running the ball.

The Raiders lost to the Broncos in Denver but much more importantly they lost Derek Carr to a back injury that could keep him on the sidelines for 2-6 weeks.  Coaches like to talk about testing the character of a team; the Raiders are about to have their character tested.  Backup QB, EJ Manuel, did not look as bad as he has in the past but that is about all I can say positively about his performance.  Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch looks to me as if he still has plenty of rust to shake off; to me, it seems as if he is running “analytically” and not “instinctively”.  The Raiders will need the “old Beast Mode” in the next several weeks.

With the regular season 25% over, the Jets and the patriots have the same record at 2-2.  Who saw that coming?  The Jets won for the second week in a row beating the Jags in OT.  Meanwhile the Pats lost at home again and the Pats’ defense was about as effective as the Maginot Line once again.  No, I do not understand what is going on there.

The Bills beat the Falcons but a fumble recovered by the Bills for a TD certainly looked to me like an incomplete pass.  Whatever…

The Rams beat the Cowboys with a second half rally.  The Rams continue to put points on the board and this week the Rams’ defense showed up in the second half to dominate the game.  Rams/Seahawks game this week should be a good one…

NBC had a great introductory song a while back when Faith Hill did the singing.  The current song is awful at the very best.  If ESPN can go back in time to resurrect Hank Williams Jr. to introduce MNF, can I please ask the execs at NBC – ever so politely – to get the old Faith Hill song back on SNF?

The Chiefs/Redskins game on MNF last nighthad to be the best MNF game so far this year.  Some future games on Monday nights could be very good – – e.g. Skins/Eagles and/or Broncos/Chiefs and/or Falcons Seahawks – – but the game last night will be the season standard for all of the Monday night games.

Finally, with the concocted competition of golf’s President’s Cup out of the way, let me share a comment from Brad Dickson of the Omaha World-Herald about golf on TV:

“There is online video of a golfer in Sweden being chased off the course by an angry moose. I’m planning to skip the next Ryder Cup to re-watch this video.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………