Week 7 has come and gone (no, 3 hours of Twitter writing Eli Manning’s football obituary on MNF doesn’t count as football) and here’s what we learned. Not much. The Chiefs have an explosive offense, the Pats know how to win without Gronk, the Browns are addicted to playing in OT, Drew Brees can’t stop breaking passing records, and another new young head coach figured out a new way to roll the dice and lose. But let’s start with the free falling Jags…
I finally started watching The Good Place this week and forking shirt, Blake Bortles is officially not the answer in Jacksonville. The Good Bortles/Bad Bortles bit would maybe cut it in another less offensively minded season (pretty much what’s kept him afloat) but not this one. Also, there’s been almost no Good Bortles this season, certainly not during the Jags three game (and counting) losing streak.
11 turnovers in his last eight quarters including the two lost fumbles Sunday which led to Bortles being benched for Cody “couldn’t cut it with the Browns” Kessler has to be a come to Jesus moment for the Jags. This team is a mess. Bortles has been awful. The Jags are missing Leonard Fournette and some other players due to injury. This also isn’t the same defense that led this team to the AFC Championship or excelled at the beginning of this year. They are missing tackles and playing with little of their signature aggression. Jalen Ramsey has made a few decent plays – his coverage on DeAndre Hopkins on a mindboggling one-handed catch was near perfect – but he’s also been getting beat with more regularity than someone who proclaims that Andrew Luck “isn’t good” should.
The whole team needs an intervention but it has to start at the quarterback position. Bortles is a liability now and I’m not sure how Doug Marrone can walk into that locker room and continue to proclaim Bortles the starter. The Jags must trade for a QB who can challenge and/or supplant him. But because the Jaguars never drafted a quarterback or nabbed a high quality free agent, the pickins are slim. From a football standpoint the highest upside moves would be to trade for Teddy Bridgewater or sign Colin Kaepernick though there’s no certainty either could step in immediately and be an upgrade. But Doug Marrone and co. have to spark some type of shakeup to because this free fall with that level of talent is unconscionable and flat out embarrassing.
After the Tennessee Titans lost on a failed 2-point conversion when they could have attempted an extra point to tie on the last play of regulation and go to OT, Titans coach Mike Vrabel said “I’m not going to question my decision.” Well, he unquestionably should because it was horrible.
The decision might have been statistically sound (chances of PAT vs. converting from 1-yd-line) but the actual play call in which Marcus Mariota was UNDER CENTER from the one-yard-line and passed was so weak. Mariota has played most of his career in the gun.
The movement toward younger gutsy head coaches is great for football in a vacuum. But this particular iteration was baffling. The Titans had all the momentum on both sides of the ball. The defense had stopped the Chargers on two out of their last three drives. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota had just orchestrated a beautiful drive to put the Titans in a position to tie and go to OT (or try and win it on the spot). The opportunity cost of going for the win was sky high, particularly when considering the team’s psyche.
When the 2-point conversion failed, Mariota’s look of disbelief and dejection was eerily similar to Andrew Luck’s a few weeks ago when Frank Reich decided to go for it for it on 4thand 4 from his own 43-yard-yard in OT. They were unsuccessful and the Texans kicked a game-winning field goal two plays later.
However, the difference between the Colts and Titans is that Tennessee actually has a shot at a clogged AFC South. Entering Week 7 this is a three-team race and the difference between a tie and loss could have a major impact down the road.
On a side note, I wonder what happens if a London game goes into OT and spills into the 1PM ET national slot, in this case Pats-Bears. If Vrabel had done the sensible thing perhaps we would have found out.
More Week 7 Musings
– What an ugly scene before the Panthers-Eagles game. Panthers safety Eric Reid and Eagles corner Malcolm Jenkins, once united in protest, had some words during the pregame captain ceremony. Reid was the instigator and he had his reasons Their split is quite complicated and I highly recommend you read ESPN’s Howard Bryant who deeply reported the root causes. At the surface is Reid’s feeling that Jenkins shifted the Player’s Coalition from Colin Kaepernick’s original message and “sold out” by taking the league’s $90+ million to work on social justice causes not necessarily aligned with Reid and Kaepernick’s original intent. But again, this is deeply layered. Please read Bryant for clarification and after further examination if I have any context to add I will write a piece this week.
– As for the actual game, that fourth quarter where Cam Newton led the Panthers to a win from down 17 and the Eagles defense completely collapsed is going to linger with both sides for a loooong time.
– Anyone else still in shock that Justin Tucker missed his first ever extra point? Of course it was the least opportune time and the Ravens lost by one point. Major kudos to Tucker for owning his mistake, “I cost us the game,” he told reporters. But he didn’t just tell them near his locker in a moment of mandatory media time. He went to the podium and faced reporters which went well and above his basic obligation.
– Rules analyst Mike Pereira is the officiating tv star gold standard. CBS’s Gene Steratore may not be far behind because his analysis, succinct delivery and accuracy has been top notch. One example was in that early London game, Mariota scrambled to the end zone. The play was ruled a touchdown and the broadcasters immediately said there wasn’t enough to overturn the call. Stertatore swooped and explained that Mariota’s shoulder was down and that it should be 3rd and goal. He was right. Call overturned. Since every network has a rules analyst now, how about just bringing them in immediately when a play is under review and skipping the step where the broadcasters take what is sometimes a wild stab.
– In my mind the MVP is a three-man race between Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff and Drew Brees.
– I have no handle on who will win he NFC East. Wide open except for the Giants.
– Kudos to Brees to joining the 500 TD club alongside Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. I’d pay money to be a fly on the wall as those four talk about life.
– Pat Mahomes wearing his dad’s baseball jersey is the coolest thing ever. Pat Mahomes I played for the Twins, Rd Sox, Rangers, Cubs, pirates, and , of course, the Mets.
Patrick Mahomes arrived wearing his dad’s Mets jersey 🔥
— SB Nation (@SBNation) October 21, 2018